Burnham and Highbridge Town Council has this week said it will not be installing a Christmas tree outside Burnham’s Victoria Hotel, despite calls from residents for it to keep the long-running tradition alive.
The landlord of the hotel, in Victoria Street, has launched a fundraising campaign to buy a new tree so that it can be installed as usual at the front of the premises.
It comes after the council decided to position its main tree outside The Princess Theatre this year instead, explaining that it needs to “exercise caution when using public money to support a business.”
Hotel landlord Ryan Andress, however, says the tree is there to raise charity funds in addition to helping to create a festive atmosphere at a busy area of the town centre. Burnham Chamber of Trade is supporting the hotel in its bid to get a new tree.
In a statement issued today (Wednesday), the Town Council told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “2020 is the first year of a new Christmas lights contract managed by the town council to provide lights in both Burnham and Highbridge.”
“The council agreed to step-in to provide and manage a new lights contract when both Highbridge and Burnham chambers were unable to continue to do it. The new festive designs are intended to enhance the street scene and will bring a number of changes, one of which is the siting of one of the 20ft town Christmas trees in Burnham.”
Sam Winter, Town Clerk, adds: “Covid-19 has meant that there can be no town centre switch-on event in Victoria Street this year and the council has recognised that it should seek to display the town Christmas trees in a suitable public space that doesn’t compromise social distancing.”
“Due to the way the council is funded by the taxpayer, it should exercise caution when using public money to support a business.”
“Councillors therefore agreed not to apply to the new owners of the Victoria Hotel to site the tree on its business premises, or any other business premises.”
“The town council continues to provide and install three town trees across the parish; one on the public green adjacent to Abingdon Street, one on the public green adjacent to the Highbridge Community Hall and one outside the Princess Theatre.”
“The tree outside the Princess Theatre is not intended as a long-term solution and it is hoped that the tree will become a focal point for a public square at a nearby location in the future.”
Town Mayor, Cllr Mike Facey, adds: “The new owners of the Victoria Hotel have said they intend to continue to display a tree in their grounds and have plans to use it to raise funds for charity.”
“Although the council is unable to provide the Victoria Hotel with a Christmas tree, we will be pleased to assist the new owners in promotion of their charitable initiatives and hope they will enjoy the new lights display decorating Victoria Street.”