Council defend Xmas tree sale

Coun Tony Williams

Coun Tony Williams

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Town hall bosses have been questioned over why they are setting up a Christmas tree sale operation – in direct competition with private firms.

Blackpool Council is selling 80 Nordmann Fir’s at its re-use shop at the tip on Bristol Avenue, with prices either £30 for a tree up to 6ft or just £40 for a tree up to 7ft.

It is the third year it has run the scheme but it has been launched again despite the authority eventually mothballing a controversial skip hire offer, which was designed to provide a cheap alternative to private skips in order to combat fly-tipping.

Private skip hire firms had complained the scheme was effectively offering subsidised skips to residents, undercutting their own businesses.

Blackpool’s Tory leader Tony Williams said: “I understand that the council has to create revenue but this scheme hits all the small retailers in the town that supply Christmas trees and the council is also enjoying free advertising through their formal press release that independent traders can’t access.

“I would much prefer if Blackpool Council worked with local businesses instead of against them by offering some level of tree collection service after the Christmas season with a donation by residents to the Mayor’s charity.

“I would also like to know where the cash goes from the sale of these trees.”

Coun Christine Wright, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member responsible for the re-use shop, said: “We only sell 80 trees at the re-use shop and all the money raised goes back in to running recycling services and keeping the tip open six days a week – which was one of the residents’ biggest priorities in our recent budget cuts survey.

“On top of that it will be making a regular donation to the Mayor’s charity anyway. This council is committed to helping local businesses and that is why we are offering free parking in all council car parks after 3pm this Saturday.

“I’ve been personally promoting that most of this week.”