'Please go to Leighton-Linslade Town Council meeting tonight to voice concerns about Christmas tree move'

Credit: Jane Russell.
Credit: Jane Russell.

Disgruntled residents are urging people to attend a Leighton-Linslade Town Council meeting tonight to voice their opinions about the High Street's Christmas tree.

It was recently announced that the festive feature would be moved to the bottom of the High Street to complement the council's plans to create a gateway feature that will bring the Greensand Ridge Walk and Greensand Cycleway right into the town centre.

The council also emphasised that its new position meant that the tree's size wouldn't be limited, and that it would give the market traders more space.

However, many residents are unhappy with the decision, voicing their concerns on social media, and wishing to know why the public were not consulted first.

One woman, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed: "The Christmas tree has been at the top of the high street for many, many years.

"They [LLTC] should think about this rather than do things willy nilly - no-one's been consulted! The first thing I heard about it was when it was in the newspaper.

"I don't think it's a good location - there's too much traffic at the bottom end of the high street, and not enough space for people to stand and admire the tree. Families will be near the road. And surely it will block out light for local businesses?

"The maidenhair tree at the bottom of the high street has also been destroyed to make room. It was lovely. Now that spot will just lie dormant every year until the Christmas tree is put up in November."

The woman urged members of the public to attend the LLTC meeting of the Cultural & Economic Services Committee tonight (October 7) at 7.30pm in The White House.

The tree itself is not on the agenda to be discussed, but residents can raise the issue during public questions.

Gennaro Borrelli, chairman of LB First (which was not involved in the decision to move the tree), said: "I think that when there are changes to something like this, people get very passionate about it. Consulting with members of the public could be more welcomed; sometimes things have to be changed, and if explained in advance people have a better understanding.

"It may be that for this event [Christmas season] it's too late, but after the council gather feedback from the general public, it's possible that afterwards it might be something that gets looked at again."

Mr Borrelli also noted that LB First were told by LLTC that the tree was moving due to safety reasons, too.

It is said that there were concerns that vandals may climb up the market cross and damage the tree, and that, in the event of an emergency, there would be better access in and out of the high street if the tree wasn't at the top.

Leighton-Linslade and Central Bedfordshire Councillor, Victoria Harvey, added: "I just wish with how many people care about it that the council had really engaged and done a much fuller consultation. Everyone's been left in the dark about the plans and how it's going to work - it could make a difference to switching on the lights, and to the fireworks?

"We have also lost quite a few trees from the high street in the last few years. I would like to see more shrubs and a bit more greenery in the high street. The trees mean a lot to people."

The original donor of the maidenhair tree, Cllr Steve Owen, consented to its removal, and a replacement tree will be planted in one of the town’s parks this winter.

Leighton-Linslade Town Council will be sending the LBO a statement about the Christmas tree later this week.

What do you think about the Christmas tree being moved? Email joanna.gravett@jpimedia.co.uk