LOCALS dismayed by the size and appearance of a threadbare town centre Christmas tree they branded the worst in the country could be stuck with it.
Cash-strapped civic bosses yesterday admitted they had no money to replace the much-maligned town tree in Peterlee, County Durham.
Since The Journal reported yesterday how the tree had been branded a disgrace by local councillor Joan Maslin, residents called for local authority Easington District Council to replace it.
Our story was followed up nationally, with one shopper describing the tree, in Castle Dene shopping centre, as the worst Christmas tree in the country.
Mike Weston, manager of the privately-owned Peterlee shopping centre, said: “We are as disappointed as anybody with the state of the tree.
“We ordered a standard Christmas tree from a supplier, and when this awful thing arrived it was too late to send it back before the lights switch-on. There was nothing we could do about it, so we were stuck with it.
“I have offered to put up another tree, if the council will go halves – we pay half, the council pays half.”
But a spokeswoman for Easington District Council said: “Unfortunately, District of Easington Council does not have a budget for the provision of Christmas trees or decorations.
“In some areas of the district, civic decorations are provided by parish or town councils. However, those on privately-owned land, such as the tree at Castle Dene Shopping Centre, would normally be paid for by the owner or manager of the land.”
Coun Maslin said: “I would describe this tree as just like a twig. To be honest, it looks like something that people would throw in a skip after Christmas.
“It is an insult to Peterlee.”
The Christmas lights were switched on by pop star Natasha Hamilton from Atomic Kitten.