Why South Shields Town Hall has a lonely heart Christmas tree this year

South Shields Town Hall
South Shields Town Hall

Passersby have been left feeling "opsided after a decades-old Christmas tradition came to an end.

Festive funding cuts have felled one of South Shields Town Hall's Christmas trees after years of two festive conifers standing proud outside its main doors.

The two-tree Town Hall in previous years

The two-tree Town Hall in previous years

The arch of lights and stars which stood over Leam Lane welcoming people to South Tyneside has also disappeared, as have a number of decorations around the borough.

However, South Tyneside Council chiefs have been quick to point out they are not seeking to be Scrooges but simply robing to fit after being hit with millions of funding cuts handed down by the Government.

A council spokesman said: “Due to ongoing unprecedented funding cuts from central government, the council has had to review the number, condition and location of festive displays, including Christmas trees, lights and motifs, across the borough to see where efficiencies could be made.

“As a result, the overall number of Christmas trees across the Borough has been reduced and festive displays deemed beyond repair or costly to repair have had to be removed.

“While we must work within the constraints of our budget, we are confident that this year’s displays will once again create a wonderful festive atmosphere and draw people into our towns and villages."

Celebrations so far have included the now-famous camel parade, as well as the annual Christmas fair at Haven Point.

Not everyone has been happy with the council's decision, however.

Marc Scott said: "Council cuts? Makes you laugh our town is dying of death, it wouldn't hurt the budget to fork out for another tree."

Wendy Evans said: "Should buy another tree out of the car parking profits, that they announced this week, makes me sick."

Sally Foreman-Baggaley said: "I miss the stars on Mill Lane roundabout. Just a very bright advertising sign distracting drivers along there now!"

Lee Payn said simply: "Disgrace."

The military past of our Christmas trees

South Tyneside's Christmas trees are Sitka Spruce from a large forested area of the MoD Firing Ranges at Otterburn.

The council deals with a company that has a licence from the MOD to thin out the wooded areas of the ranges to allow troop movements through the woods when the trees have become too dense.

The trees are not grown specifically as Christmas trees, but are selected from the crop based on their size and shape.