Chorley councillor hits back at 'ungrateful' residents who mocked her Christmas tree gift

A Chorley councillor has hit back at residents who mocked a Christmas tree that she donated to the community.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 3rd December 2018, 2:51 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th December 2018, 7:35 am
The controversial Christmas tree in Clayton Brook, Chorley.
The controversial Christmas tree in Clayton Brook, Chorley.

Yvonne Hargreaves, councillor for Clayton-le-Woods North, has revealed how she was 'hurt and upset' after some residents in Clayton Brook mocked a Christmas tree that she had donated to the community.

Coun Hargreaves paid for the tree herself after informing residents that the village 'failed to qualify' for a tree this year.

But the councillor's generous Christmas spirit was ridiculed by some residents, who said the diminutive tree was an 'eye sore' and 'an insult to the community'.

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The controversial Christmas tree in Clayton Brook, Chorley.

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Coun Hargreaves, who was appointed councillor for the ward in May, said she had planned to decorate the tree with Christmas lights and ornaments.

But the maligned tree was 'stolen' after less than 24 hours and unceremoniously dumped on a nearby street.

She said: "I was upset and disappointed by the reaction of some people to the tree. I paid for that tree myself and brought it to the village centre as a gift to the community who didn't have a tree of their own this year.

Councillor Yvonne Hargreaves, Clayton-le-Woods North.

"The tree was actually 8ft tall and I was waiting for permission from the council to decorate it with flashing lights.

"We found the tree the next day on the estate and we have now re-homed it in the village hall.

"I can confirm that the tree was stolen and police were notified. It's deeply disappointing that this goodwill gesture was tarnished by a minority of residents."

Many members of the community have since expressed their appreciation and support to the councillor for her generous Christmas gift.

Voicing her support on social media, Erin Hardman said: "Why is everyone saying it's embarrassing when this councillor went out of her way and spent her own money to buy one so her town wasn't left out?

"The only thing embarrassing is people's ungrateful reaction."

Glenys Harley said: "If it wound the residents up that much, why did they not bring out some decorations to put on it and make it a nice community tree?

"Children would have enjoyed that and made it their own. Size isn’t everything. Ungratefulness comes to mind."

Beth Airey added: "Lucky to have a Christmas tree at all, wouldn't have thought most estates get one."

Coun Hargreaves said the Christmas tree controversy has been misunderstood by some residents who said the diminutive tree was 'an insult to the community'.

According to the councillor, Clayton Brook was not 'denied' funding from the parish council. It was simply not eligible.

She said: "It is not true that the community was denied funding for a Christmas tree from the parish council. Rather, the community did not have an account set up in which to receive funds from the parish council. Funds can only be awarded to a community group or residents' group who are registered.

"Applications must be made to the parish council from these groups and no such application was made by the residents of Clayton Brook."

Coun Hargreaves said the 'ungrateful' response from a 'minority' of residents will not deter her from doing her best for the community in the future.

She said: "There are good and bad people in every community, you can't please them all. But I am absolutely committed to Clayton Brook and I will endeavour to do the best for them and their families.

"I will not be deterred by the ungrateful response of a minority and I will continue to work towards re-engaging residents in the community.

"I have recently set up a residents' group for future activities and programmes, in collaboration with Places for People, which will provide a range of activities and benefits for the whole community."

Mark Clifford, chairman of Clayton-le-Woods Parish Council, stressed that the absence of a 'big' Christmas tree in Clayton Brook was not due to a refusal of funding.

He said: "The tree fitted by Clayton-Le-Woods Parish Council at the crossroads of Clayton-Le-Woods is for all residents of Clayton-le-Woods to enjoy.

"We have chosen this location due to it being on the main A6 where thousands of cars pass it every day and it's on the route of our local bus services and opposite the village library.

"As a parish council we have one of the largest villages in the Chorley Borough which comprises of many different housing estates and our tree is for everyone who resides in Clayton-Le-Woods.‎"

The chairman rejected claims by some residents that a lack of funding for a bigger tree represented a lack of consideration for Clayton Brook.

He said: "No grant application form was submitted to Clayton-Le-Woods Parish Council in 2018 regarding an area having a separate Christmas tree.

"Where different areas have their own Christmas trees this has always been funded by local residents groups in partnership with their local borough councillors and not Clayton-Le-Woods Parish Council.

"Questions regarding individual trees should be directed to the local residents' groups and borough councillors who have dealt with their trees in previous years."

Asked whether he thought a lack of gratitude and appreciation was shown by some people in the community, he responded: "No comment".