Lewisham Council has been accused of spoiling the borough’s Christmas trees by placing unsightly traffic management barriers around them.
The evergreen trunks are surrounded by plastic barriers which according to one councillor is in accordance with tree provider Skanska’s health and safety regulations.
“As it is, the fences round the trees in Crofton Park and Ladywell totally detract from the tree – the trees might as well not be there,” said Jenny Wood, a blogger from Brockley. “Everyone locally is talking – and laughing – about it. But at the same time, it’s actually quite sad – is this what we’ve come to?!”
Lewisham Councillor for Crofton Park, Pauline Morrison, told ELL that the council was not to blame: “We have bought the tree from Skanska and we must abide by their health and safety regulations.”
She cited an incident from five years ago, of a young girl almost hit by a falling tree, as the reason for enforcing such safety barriers. She insisted these measures would prevent a tree falling.
The fences are around a metre tall; while the trees amount to over 10 feet tall.
Skanska currently hold a 25-year street light renewal infrastructure contract in Lewisham. Their illuminating expertise was requisitioned this Christmas to provide the trees that the council appear to be unable to provide themselves.
Photographs of the Christmas trees caused a furore across social media.
Nick Barron, a Brockley blogger wrote: “Lewisham Council: If you have so little faith in your citizens that you don’t credit them with sufficient Christmas spirit to avoid violating a conifer or sense enough not to crash into one, then just don’t bother.
The flimsy structures have been derided on Twitter with one user exclaiming “He’s not coming over here and sticking his presents under our tree #brexittree.”
— Adam Mitchenall (@AdamPMitch) December 3, 2016
Another user highlighted the marked difference between the Christmas trees in Hackney and Lewisham.
— Jenny Wood (@WoodyJen) December 5, 2016
Both Lewisham Council and Skanska did not respond to requests for comment.