Furious residents blast ‘Scrooge’ council for putting up ‘shabby’ Christmas tree

Residents are fuming at a "Scrooge council" for putting up a "shabby" Christmas tree with barely any lights on it, in an attempt to save money.

Walsall Council has admitted it's trying to make savings after identifying a potential overspend of £18million next year, and as part of the cost-slashing it has also decided not to fund a 'switch on' event for the town. The 30ft high Christmas tree that stands in the town centre with just a few lights hanging from its branches illustrates the dire financial situation for the authorities, but people still aren't happy.

Local politicians and business leaders have criticised the "shabby" tree, calling it an "embarrassment". Councillor Matt Ward, who represents Darlaston South, said: "It's absolutely unbelievable.

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"Whilst other towns have light switch-ons which draw hundreds of people into the town, Walsall gets a tree that looks like it's been dragged around the town and the lights just thrown on."

Councillor Ward continued by blasting the council's apparent lack of Christmas spirit.

He said: "There is no festive cheer, as the council are planning on withdrawing Christmas light funding with a commitment from a contractor to pay for just one year.

"Shabby trees isn't quite the festive spirit Walsall residents deserve. This doesn't exactly give you a reason to come to Walsall to do your Christmas shopping."

Chef Carl Hooshand, 53, from Walsall, added: "It looks like a monstrosity. It's better than nothing but I've got conifers in my garden shaped better than that."

"When I first saw it I thought to myself 'is that it?'

"I know everyone's cutting back but come on, the council can surely do better than that.

"Loads of parents walk their kids past it, it's a shame for the children not to have the chance to enjoy a properly decorated tree."

Mum-of-two Jenny Howell, from Willenhall, said: "I'd actually prefer no tree than that. You can barely see any of the lights. It just looks sad.

"It can't save the council that much money to cut the lights. It just looks crap."

Furious residents also took to social media to vent their frustration at the "half dead" tree.

One said: "I'm sick of these cheapskate councillors. Give us a proper flipping tree with LIGHTS!"

Another remarked: "Only in Walsall can you put a Christmas tree up and make the town look even worse. I've seen better on bonfires!"

The council say officials will be carrying on "quality checks" on the tree in the coming days.

Town hall chiefs are also planning to cut its overall Christmas lights budget next year to save £40,000.

Officials hope the lights will be provided by private companies and through sponsorship instead.

A Walsall Council spokesperson said: "The council is looking at a number of savings proposals in advance of final budget decisions early next year.

"These proposals include exploring the opportunity to secure corporate sponsorship of the borough's Christmas lights, something that has worked well this year to mitigate the impact of increasing costs.

"At this stage, no decision has been made about the future funding of Christmas lights."

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