Roundabout Christmas tree offer rejected

A COUNCIL has been labelled Scrooge-like for not putting a Christmas tree on Willingdon roundabout.

A festive, lit tree has been a familiar sight on the main roundabout in to town in recent years and was always organised by Eastbourne Borough Council in partnership with a local sponsor.

But earlier this year the responsibility for the roundabout was transferred from the borough council in Eastbourne to East Sussex County Council, which says it cannot justify the cost of the tree.

The roundabout is sponsored by Eastbourne car hire firm Apex in Cavendish Place but director Roland Stanley says the firm already pays out a substantial amount of money to the council in sponsorship each year for nine roundabouts locally and forking out for Christmas trees is not an option.

Eastbourne taxi firm boss Chris Islip has offered to pay for a Christmas tree to be placed on the roundabout and lights placed on it, but that is not allowed when another company already sponsors it.

Mr Islip, who runs Sussex Cars, said, “I think it’s a dreadful shame that for the first time in as long as I can remember, there is no tree on Willingdon roundabout.

“It is the first roundabout people come to when they arrive in Eastbourne and it is very sad to see it without a Christmas tree.

“Our company has offered to pay for a tree and light it but it seems it’s just not possible.

“It’s very disappointing and such a shame. The council is being very Scrooge-like.”

Mr Stanley said, “We pay the council a significant amount of money to sponsor roundabouts and it is up to the council to maintain it and the council is responsible for what it plants there.”

Roger Williams, head of highways at the county council, said, “There’s absolutely no problem with putting up a Christmas tree on this roundabout – we don’t want to spoil anybody’s festive fun.

“Unfortunately, as much as we’d like to, we just can’t meet the cost.

“The extent of the savings we’re having to make as an organisation has been well publicised and in these financially straightened times we really have to spend our limited money where it’s needed most.”