Health And Safety Is Top Priority For Ely Christmas Tree

PUBLISHED: 11:55 14 December 2009 | UPDATED: 11:11 04 May 2010

IN response to the letters in the Ely Standard (November 26) regarding the Christmas tree, health and safety has always been a top priority irrespective of whether or not a tree is real and every possible precaution is taken. The company from which the tr

IN response to the letters in the Ely Standard (November 26) regarding the Christmas tree, health and safety has always been a top priority irrespective of whether or not a tree is real and every possible precaution is taken. The company from which the tree was purchased has been trading for many years and has had to go through all the stringent formalities regarding the safety its products. Were that not the case, the purchase would not have gone ahead. These trees have been used successfully for many years in several European countries for their Christmas markets. An identical tree currently stands outside a business premises in the UK and has done for the past six years, without any problems, regardless of the weather.

Extreme care is always taken when erecting the tree, and whether real or artificial, both have the propensity to fall. Perhaps we should do away with a tree altogether?

The Christmas lights come under the jurisdiction of the City of Ely council, and not the East Cambridgeshire District Council. The assessment and collection of Council Tax is the responsibility of the District Council, not the City Council. We do receive a grant from them but if one only takes the population of Ely into account, it equates to less than 34 pence per person per year.

The decision to have an artificial tree was not made without considerable thought and debate. The cost of a real tree, together with the delivery, erection, removal and disposal, costs approximately £1,500. The cost of an artificial tree is greater, but can last for eight to 10 years, and is therefore far more economical.

Our budget is not great. It is comprised of a grant from the district council, donations from the public and some local businesses, for which ware are very grateful and fund raising by the Christmas Lights team. Once the tree and the necessary insurance is paid for and a small contingency fund put aside, there is not much money left with which to buy lighting.

One of the common misconceptions is that we are paid for what we do. We are not and never have been. Were we to receive payment for the hours we work, not just at Christmas but throughout the year, a switch-on night would not be necessary as there would be nothing left of the budget to buy lights.

This is supposed to be the season of goodwill and generosity of spirit to all. It is one of the main reasons why, despite yearly criticism, come November next year I and the rest of the Christmas Lights volunteers will again be getting very wet and cold doing our very best to illuminate this beautiful city and give enjoyment and pleasure to many.

JENNY CHAPLIN

Hills Lane

Ely


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