Unholy row over ‘puny’ Christmas tree

Michael Moulding from Ashton Residents Association with the Christmas Tree on Wigan Road, Ashton
Michael Moulding from Ashton Residents Association with the Christmas Tree on Wigan Road, Ashton

COUNCILLORS are getting the needle after complaints their living community Christmas tree is “puny.”

The three Labour representatives in Ashton have replaced the artificial tree erected as usual by the library as a go-green gesture.

But now a residents’ group is attacking the spruce sapling for being too small and, at the moment, too insignificant, for one of the borough’s biggest towns.

They claim that the councillors should have spent more of their town hall Brighter Borough cash on buying an “older and wiser” tree instead.

In a joint statement, the three councillors insisted that the community will now enjoy watching the junior spruce grow up over the years to become an impressive centrepiece.

But the secretary of Ashton Residents’ Association is asking for last year’s artificial tree to be dusted down and re-erected until the live one is big enough to cope with Christmas duties.

Resident and leader of The Community Action Party, Michael Moulding, said that he called 12 months ago for Ashton to be given a “magnificent and beautiful” living tree to replace the artificial “upside down ice cream cornet.”

But the Ashton councillors have “not done the town proud.” He fumed: “We have got a living tree but it is certainly is not magnificent and is barely five foot tall.

“They get in the region of £16,000 Brighter Borough cash for the ward each year...yet they can’t have spent more than £80 on this.

“I am disappointed for Ashton because I believe the Ashton councillors could have allocated more money for a much bigger and better living tree.

“A living tree is a one-off purchase which, all being well, should serve Ashton for many years so I think there should have been more effort and money spent out of their yearly grant to ensure they did the town proud.

“The saving grace is the tree will grow so will be a little bigger every year. We did our best but we have no control, ultimately, as to how our councillors respond.”

He quipped that he would now be giving the tree “an occasional feed” to encourage new growth.

But Coun Nigel Ash, also speaking on behalf of ward colleagues Bill Clarke and Joel Haddley, said that, in conjunction with the Children’s Centre, they would now be asking parents and children to join in a campaign called “Love our little Christmas tree.”

Coun Ash said: “We appreciate the reaction when people first see this tree, but it must remembered that this is a living tree which is eco-friendly, will require little maintenance in the future and is projected to grow at one meter per year.

“So next year and in subsequent years Ashton will have a much bigger more resplendent tree which will grow naturally at little cost to the tax payer.

“We will be inviting children to stand next to the tree for a photograph and then return next year to see how they and the tree have grown.”