A row dubbed “treegate” has broken out in a small town after a council proposed increasing tax to pay for a “new hole” for its Christmas tree.
Sudbury Town Council wants to move its festive centrepiece to a more visible location in the Suffolk town after a local campaign pressed for the move.
However, digging a new hole and electric work would cost up to £5,000, so it asked people if they would fund it through an increase in council tax.
Reaction was largely negative.
The council wants to move the tree from Old Market Place to a more prominent location on Market Hill, in front of St Peter’s Church.
“Unfortunately because it is classed as public highway we have to get highways contractors to do the work, so it’s going to cost between £2,500 and £5,000, which is sadly why we can’t afford to do it out of this year’s budget,” the town’s mayor, Sarah Page, said.
The money would be used to “install a new hole and necessary electric trunking”, the council said on Facebook.
The council thinks moving the tree is “a good idea”, but it asked “whether people would object to a slight increase in their council tax” to ensure funding is in place for 2018. It had suggested the increase would be between 25p and 50p per tax bill.
An online survey prompted a barrage of comments on Facebook.
While a few have said, “I’ll pay it”, the majority have been more negative.
“I don’t think anyone could make this up”, wrote one, while many thought it “a joke”
“Another described it as “so ‘Yes Minister'”.
However, two days after the initial message was posted on Monday, local businessman Stuart Poole has volunteered to bypass the council tax idea and take responsibility for raising £3,000.
“It’s shocking they can’t find the money,” he told the BBC.
“They’re trying to promote the town. We want the tree on a road where it can be seen, and where trading has gone on for centuries,” he added.
The council acknowledged Mr Poole’s pledge on Facebook.
Source: BBC Suffolk