Louth Town Council re-votes to overturn Christmas Tree decision

Louth Town Council (September 17, 2019)
Louth Town Council (September 17, 2019)

Sparks flew at Louth Town Council last night (Tuesday) after a third vote on a £7,500 plastic Christmas tree saw the decision overturned.

A local Christmas Tree producer offered to donate one of their own trees to the council in exchange for a charitable donation at the meeting.

The meeting followed widespread debate over the environmental and economic impact of the purchase of the plastic tree.

Several councillors walked out after some of their fellow members were swayed by the events of the night – leading to a 10-10 vote with the chairman breaking the tie by voting against the plastic tree.

Peter Strawson from Strawson Woodlands, in Little Cawthorpe, offered a free tree to the town.

He said: “I’ve been putting my mind to this and I thought what we’d better do is give you a tree and invite you to make a contribution to charity.

“We could put a charity box at the base of the tree and others could do so as well and that way everybody could gain.”

Councillors did, however, confirm the tree donated would be shorter than last year as Mr Strawson confirmed he did not have the stock for a full sized one.

Resident Hollie Cichon Bali urged councillors to accept the offer: “Because there’s been so much uproar, perhaps maybe for this year given the short notice there now is we should take the opportunity, use what we’ve been given, what’s been grown locally and if its still up for discussion we’ve got a whole year.”

During a heated debate which saw councillors shouting at each other across the floor, objectors who claimed two thirds of the tree would come from China were accused of “spreading misinformation” and supporters said they had answered questions raised in previous debates.

Those objecting disputed the environmental claims, while questioning the research carried out with local residents.

Some councillors on both sides said the tree coming back before the authority made the council look “stupid”.

However, the offer of a tree swayed some councillors to change their vote.

Councillor George Horton said: ”Local businesses are still traditional and like to see a traditional Christmas tree.

”It’s not just the tree, it’s the lights, the ornaments and everything that goes on it,” he added.

The artificial tree which had been planned to be bought was six metres in height and included 7,000 energy-saving LED lights built-in. It was made of a mix of PE Plastic and PVC. Supporters said it would have a smaller carbon footprint than chopping down real trees.

However, it would not have been decorated this year following the initial spend.

The original decision caused much debate in the town after it was approved originally at the August meeting of the authority by a vote of 10-8.

• Do you think the town council was right to overturn the decision? Email james.silcocks@jpimedia.co.uk or leave your comments below.