Bungling council workmen have chopped down a village’s Christmas tree – for the second time this winter. The chainsaw happy contractors mistakenly felled the festive fir, complete with fairy lights, in Oakworth, West Yorkshire, back in November. So the village’s Friends of Holden Park (FOHP) raised £600 to buy and install lights on another spruce in the same park as a replacement. But no sooner had the Friends of Holden Park decorated another 30ft high tree, then the same blundering workmen returned with their axes to chop that down as well. Locals are gobsmacked at the incompetence of the tree surgeons who have managed to chop down two Christmas trees, both covered in festive lights, in the same park within a month.
Now furious residents are demanding an apology from Bradford Council and want the lights replacing.
Janet Armstrong, Secretary of Oakworth Village Society, spotted the over-zealous tree surgeons this lunchtime standing over the felled tree, and asked: ”I hope you haven’t chopped our Christmas tree down?”
And got the reply: ”Yes, we have love.”
Locals held fundraising events to pay for more Christmas lights and rent a cherry-picker to decorate another tree in Holden Park after the contractors cut down Oakworth’s original Christmas tree – in error – back in November.
“They have gone and chopped our Christmas tree down again – it’s beyond belief,” said Mrs Armstrong.
“It was a beautiful 30ft mature fir tree, covered in brand new Christmas lights plugged into the mains supply, how could the workmen get it so wrong?”
Planners had sanctioned the felling or some trees in Holden Park and had marked each one with a red cross - but not the Christmas tree.
The new lights had cost FOHP £300 and the hire of the cherry-picker had been a similar amount.
Councillor Rebecca Poulsen, whose Bradford Council Worth Valley ward covers Oakworth, said: ”The Oakworth Village Society and local people are really upset about this.
The trees that were to be chopped down were clearly given a red mark – the Christmas tree had no such red mark, and also was covered in
fairy lights,” said Coun Poulsen.
“I am going to be demanding some recompense from Bradford Council and the least that the council can do is replace the lights.
“This is just not fair for the whole village, which has worked really hard to fund the Christmas lights themselves, with no help from Bradford Council.”
Phil Barker, Bradford Council's Assistant Director Sport and Culture, said: "The Parks and Woodlands Service has supported the work of both the Friends of Holden Park and Oakworth Village Society to carry out improvements to the park.
The tree works, carried out by contractors, were part of a scheme to improve the appearance of the area around the war memorial. Unfortunately due to a breakdown in communication the contractors were not aware of the lights on this particular tree that had been identified for removal until work had commenced.
We are sorry for this breakdown in communication and will replace the lights for future use. We apologise for any distress this may have caused."