Readers have their say on the great Peterborough Christmas tree debate

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Have your say

Peterborough Telegraph readers have sent in their views on the city centre Christmas tree after the paper revealed councillors were due to debate its future.

The artificial tree has been controversial since it was first put up four years ago.

Christmas lights switch-on in the city centre 2017 EMN-171118-191154009

Christmas lights switch-on in the city centre 2017 EMN-171118-191154009

The tree cost £40,000 and according to Peterborough City Council was due to last at least five years, meaning it is set to return in 2019.

A motion for councillors to debate replacing the tree with a traditional Christmas tree was scrapped on Wednesday after the person who submitted the motion, Cllr Darren Fower, said he had been told by a senior official that the authority was already looking at bringing in a traditional tree next year.

The PT asked readers for their thoughts on the artificial tree, and some of the responses are below:

We have not tired of the ‘tree’

Here is my vote. Please keep the magical white Christmas tree a couple more years at least.

I think it gives Peterborough something special and different at Christmas time and people are not tired of it yet.

I understand that it cost more to buy than a “regular” tree of that size, but that’s because it can be re-used year after year. It is actually a saving.

So, two reasons to keep it - 1. It is lovely and 2. It saves money that can be well spent on all the cash strapped services we need.

Ann Reynolds, Peterborough

From the moment Peterborough City Council replaced the tree I asked myself what on earth were they thinking?

Why would you replace a beautiful natural tree with a heap of metallic balls in a cone. It wasn’t until last month that I found the reason after contacting the council’s FOI team asking about the cost of the lights and decorations and all became apparent.

If you take yourself back to 2011/2012 we had a wonderful net of lights spanning the entire square with a market beneath, the cost of that set the council back at £185,670 and the following year 2012/2013 it was slightly lower at £162,734, however, both years we had a Christmas market in the square that would have brought in some revenue for the council as well as customers and diners to shops and eateries nearby.

If we bring ourselves to when the new tree arrived in 2015 you’ll notice the costs dropped down to approximately £82,000.

This makes a lot of sense as the main focus in the square will be the brightly lit tree opposed to the decorations and lights on the surrounding buildings which at present are some pretty awful looking rope lights and some sorry looking wreaths and garland as well as LED cones down Bridge Street.

When you look at previous years where effort was made on decorations there were markets, bustling atmosphere in the city centre, the controversial Coca Cola lorry was situated on Bridge St, bringing crowds into the centre which meant two things, shops are getting customers and eateries are getting diners.

With the effort being made by Queensgate to put on a fantastic light display inside, you really cannot fault them for pulling out all the stops, Santa’s grotto doesn’t look like some scrap cardboard, it looks sturdy and well made.

Peterborough City Council are really letting down Queensgate by not attempting to drive shoppers into the city centre. Maybe it’s time to stop using excuses and make an effort to bring festive stall holders into the square again, no saying Lincoln’s three day Christmas market is too big of a competitor for Peterborough to host one.

Benjamin P, Cambridge

The best news I’ve read. The council spent £40,000 on that damned carbuncle they call a Christmas tree, spending taxpayers money without even consulting us about it.

This dreadful insult to us was supposed to last and be used for five years (god forbid another year), costing £8,000 per year.

A real live Christmas tree, average cost £500 a year over five years - £2.500! AND it can be recycled!

Not rocket science is it? Now who’s wasting money?

Is that object currently sitting in Cathedral Square recyclable?

This whole debacle has made me so angry!

So much of our Christmas tradition is being eroded away.

So next year, for pity’s sake GIVE US A REAL TREE WITH REAL LIGHTS AND A STAR ON TOP!

It would be nice also to see more shops being decorated. They look so dull some of them.

Come on, lighten up! It’s Christmas!

Ronnie Murphy via email

I’m writing this email to tell you how crap the Christmas tree is!

The council say they like to keep their city safe but also, with the tree, if children get in there, not only is it the parents that are not taking care of their children, but that tree can cause damage to those children as well as others.

Me and many others would like a real Christmas tree, not a load of balls! A real Christmas tree is traditional, it’s part of Christmas! The tree is the main thing of Christmas! My opinion, get this flipping thing changed!!

Samantha Carter via email

I think that the tree in Cathedral Square is awful and cheap looking, no colour and should be replaced but not at council tax payers cost.

The council waste enough of our money already on hare brained schemes. Vote ‘’Get rid’’ but not at our expense. Come on everyone.

A resident, Peterborough

I wish to add my support for having a real Xmas tree again in future years.

When the current artificial one was announced I remember reading about the cost and how long it would be used for and could not help thinking that a real tree each year would not cost as much.

A real one can be recycled for the benefit of the environment. Does anyone know if the materials in this artificial tree can be recycled?

Lights and decorations for a real tree probably do not need replacing every year if put up and taken down with care and appropriately stored.

Someone commented in last week’s Peterborough Telegraph on how splendid the Xmas decorations in Queensgate were - I find this year’s display rather dismal and sparse. Their displays were far better some years ago.

During the past few years, but not so far in 2018, I have travelled through some of the small Fenland towns and villages during the Xmas period, and during the evenings, and many of them have had some beautiful Xmas decorations and lights - down almost every street in the town or village centre and on all the retail units plus some other buildings too.

I appreciate that the cost of Xmas displays increases all the time, as with everything else, but if some of these smaller places can put on such lovely displays then why can’t a city the size of Peterborough?

If our council currently pays all city centre Xmas display costs and the owners of the Queensgate centre pay all costs of their Xmas displays too, then is it time to ask each retail unit and some other businesses to contribute towards the costs?

The more contributors there are then the less each will be asked to contribute. It may also encourage more shoppers into the city centre during the Xmas period.

Perhaps some lateral thinking needs to be applied in order to come up with some displays both affordable and attractive - maybe a little different and/or simpler in both materials and content too in order to accomplish this but also keeping the Xmas theme, colours and traditions.

Mary Baxter, Peterborough

What has happened to all the festive things we had in the centre of Peterborough?

I thought we had a Christmas fund? Now all you see is homeless people!

The council should STOP spending on things for themselves and invest in the people. Bring back the big tree. Bring back all the craft stalls. Bring back all the Christmas entertainers. Make our city a place people WANT to visit. Or are you secretly planning to cancel Christmas? Remember 10 years ago it used to be a fantastic place to visit at Christmas.

Pat Thompson, Peterborough