Our Christmas tree is famous, mostly for the wrong reasons!

  • Once again our three councillors (Gail Giles, Cliff Suller and Paul Huntley) ensured that Caerleon benefited from a lovely Christmas Tree on Goldcroft Common. And although rain drove the annual Carol Service from the Common into the Town Hall, it was a great success – along with a series of other Christmas events. But the festive week was marred because of scandalous political campaigning by a Liberal Democrat.

    Carols 2015

    Raising the money for a tree and lights, and getting it installed when budgets are tight, proved to be very difficult and nearly didn’t happen. And once it was done local residents came up with a last minute plan to dress the tree with baubles. Our councillors were happy with the principle, but persuaded them – perfectly reasonably – that it would need a much longer planning period. So the bauble team agreed to put it off until next year to give everybody time to work out the practicalities.The baubles were hung from the fence instead. Our thanks to that group for their cooperation and for their community spirit.

    Christmas in Caerleon posterIt should be stressed that the tree is not a council project.It’s part of “Christmas in Caerleon”, a community project involving members of Caerleon Tourism Forum, local councillors, the Visit from Santa group, local schools, the Church and Caerleon Festival. Councillors,  along with volunteers from other local organisations, work together to raise money, get sponsorship and enlist practical help from private donors and the local authority. The tree for example was privately donated and the lights were purchased a few years ago out of councillors’ personal community allowances.

    Despite that a political wannabe from St Julians – a Liberal Democrat –  decided to create mischief by using social media. He went to the press – saying that the bauble team had been fobbed off by council Health and Safety concerns. Using an extremely poor photograph taken in cloudy daylight, he launched a petty minded campaign asking people to criticise it. It caught on with social media addicts, and was taken up by the Argus and the Western Mail. The council has never expressed any advice on health and safety to these people. The ward councillors did suggest that it wasn’t a good idea for the husbands of the ladies organising the baubles to climb up the tree on ladders – for obvious reasons. And suggestions by critics that the council erection team should have gone back to put the baubles on the tree were totally unrealistic. They had already given more help than could have been reasonably expected of them.

    The trouble with “Health and Safety” is that somebody from a public body only has to breathe about possible safety implications and internet trolls (and we don’t mean the local bauble team here) come screaming out of the woods  like spoiled children. And then if somebody gets hurt, because the regulations have not quite worked, they come screaming out of the woods again.

    The Western Mail staged a totally unscientific poll online, in which people from all over the country were asked to press a “yes” or “no” button to say whether they liked the tree or not – based on the complainant’s totally unflattering daytime photograph. It was just an open invitation to trolls who surf the internet looking for something to moan about. Needless to say most of them couldn’t resist the temptation to be negative.

    Xmas Tree 2015

    The tree on Goldcroft Common

    To illustrate the intended effect of the tree, we published our own night-time picture on local social media.We were literally swamped by responses from people who said that they liked the tree.

    Many praised the councillors for getting it organised. And many more who attended the various Christmas events in Caerleon on December 12th were expressing their anger to party members about the way Caerleon was being denigrated by outsiders.

    So that’s our Christmas Tale this year – such is local politics!

    Happy Christmas to all our readers.

    December 13th, 2015 | Caerleon Labour | Comments Off on Our Christmas tree is famous, mostly for the wrong reasons! |

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