People power wins in tree row

Sharna Wray and Lindsay White with Bexhill's Christmas Tree
Sharna Wray and Lindsay White with Bexhill's Christmas Tree

‘Embarrassing’, ‘pitiful’ and even ‘not worth vandalising’ - it’s fair to say that the people of Bexhill have been rather underwhelmed by the town’s Christmas tree this year.

With it’s haphazard lights looking as if they had been “dropped by a passing plane”, the tree in Devonshire Square had been the subject of some scathing criticism since the lights were switched on last Friday (December 5).

But after several days of listening to grumbling locals on Facebook, Bexhillians Lindsay White and Sharna Wray decided to take matters into their own hands.

The duo walked into the Town Hall to tell Rother District Council, which was responsible for the lacklustre decorations, that the town deserved better.

And it appeared RDC agreed, as in a flash of Christmas spirit the authority not only agreed to re-do the decorations, but spend an extra £300 on more festive lights.

Lindsay said the result was ‘brilliant’, adding: “It happened quite quickly, which is always a good thing.

“You do not expect to get a positive result so quickly.”

She said: “We are going to look to work with the council next year and get something bigger and better.”

Council contractors headed to the site on Wednesday morning (December 10) to change the decorations.

Cllr Simon Elford, Rother District Council cabinet member for Bexhill affairs, told the Observer: “We took over responsibility for Christmas decorations in Bexhill some years ago following the demise of the street traders’ organisation which previously took this on, and after no other business organisation came forward to continue this role.

“The business community still organises and puts up Christmas lights in all the other towns in the district, however we decided to set aside funding and appointed a local contractor to install the tree and Christmas lights in Bexhill, to fill the gap and ensure the town wasn’t left in the dark over the Christmas period.

“After being made aware of concerns about the appearance of this year’s tree, we have asked our contractor, who has carried out this role for a number of years, to return this week to redress the tree to a more acceptable standard.

“If businesses or individuals would like to get involved to deliver Christmas decorations in Bexhill, to help provide an improved display and put some more festive cheer into the town, we would strongly urge them to get in touch.”

* See page 17 pictures of Friday’s lights switch-on.