In response to an orchestrated internet campaign against Caerleon’s Christmas tree and Newport Council by a Liberal Democrat activist who doesn’t even live in the town, our three councillors have hit back at what they describe as a smear on the image of Caerleon. The original story, motivated by the ill informed views of this one individual, was carried widely by both the South Wales Argus and the Western Mail.
In a letter which was published by the South Wales Argus on December 18th they explain that the Christmas tree on Goldcroft Common is not a council tree, it’s a locally organised community tree – part of the “Christmas in Caerleon” festivities – and it is unfair and inaccurate to criticise Newport City Council for refusing to put baubles on the tree.
There has been overwhelming support for the way the tree has been decorated, and the only serious criticism seems to have come from one non-resident. The letter was supported by the Chair of Caerleon Festival, who is also a long standing member of Caerleon’s Tourism Forum – two organisations which are heavily involved in “Christmas in Caerleon”.
This is the letter to the South Wales Argus:
“With reference to “Caerleon residents criticise Newport City Council over Christmas tree decorations.” (December 11th & 13th), you said the Council had refused to decorate the tree with baubles. You reported that Caerleon based volunteers then offered to do it themselves, but were “told that they couldn’t, because of health and safety”. We checked with the council, and no such advice was given. And we have no evidence that any of these volunteers actually complained to the council.
“Ward Councillors usually help to organise the tree, and informally advised volunteers that climbing up was not a good idea. This was accepted and baubles were put on a fence. Both sides agreed to plan ahead for tree baubles next year.
“We were pleased to accept council help with the erection of the tree and lights, but it is not a council tree. It’s a community tree, partly financed by council members’ allowances but also reliant on local sponsorship.
“Local internet comments on the tree have been overwhelmingly supportive, in contrast to an orchestrated campaign of negativity by a non-resident. We are angry that Caerleon’s image was smeared in this way.”
Ward Councillors Gail Giles, Paul Huntley and Cliff Suller
Tim Davidson – Chair, Caerleon Festival and Caerleon Tourism Forum member.