Havering Council is third biggest spender on Christmas trees in London

Havering Council is London’s third biggest spender on Christmas trees and related decorations, a financial services company has found.

Wexdon Financial Services used the Freedom of Information Act to find out how much each of the London boroughs spent on the decorations, and published the results on its website http://wexdon.com.

Havering is ranked third in the table, having spent �20,515 in 2011.

Richard Briggs, from the company, said: “The research revealed that some London boroughs, such as Kensington and Chelsea, helped facilitate local businesses to bear the cost of Christmas trees.

“Why don’t other London boroughs, like Havering, save local taxpayers’ money and facilitate local businesses to purchase Christmas trees?”

He added that the council could also have saved money by buying smaller trees.

Readers on the Recorder’s Facebook page were divided over how much the council spends.

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Steve Davies said: “As long as they tender the costs every year to make sure they’re getting the best value I can’t see the harm in it.

“There are a hundred other things they could cut down on. Decorations at this time of year make town centres look nice and festive.”

While Suzanne Randall said: “Personally, I think it’s necessary to raise spirits in the community. It’s a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

“When you actually work out how much it costs each tax payer living in Havering, I bet it works out less than a pound per head, probably even less than that. Personally, I’m all for it.”

But Treana Yems said: “Shouldn’t they be using the rainy day funds to keep services going?”. And Sharron Peel added: “Shame they’re cutting vital services but can still find money to waste. I’m sure people who have had their services cut really appreciate Havering “looking pretty”.”

Cllr Robert Benham, Havering Council’s cabinet member for community empowerment, commented on Christmas decorations in general, stating: “Last year we had additional investment of �43,000 from the Mayor’s office to buy new decorations for Rainham and Hornchurch – but our budget on Christmas has not increased for a number of years and is around �57,000.

“We want to encourage people to shop at their local shops and take pride in their community at Christmas so we were really pleased that the Mayor granted us this additional money.”

For the full London figures by local authority, visit http://wexdon.com.