3 Sep 2015

Big bill for Blenheim's Christmas tree

5:21 pm on 3 September 2015

Councillors in Marlborough are debating whether or not to spend $100,000 buying and installing a Christmas tree in central Blenheim.

Blenheim's Seymour Square

Blenheim's Seymour Square Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Mayor Alastair Sowman said councillors set aside the money in this year's budget to cover the cost of buying, setting up and decorating a tree to replace the tree previously funded by electricity supplier Marlborough Lines.

This week councillors considered two options for a 10 metre-high tree to be installed in central Blenheim. Cost estimates covered the steel tree, lights, decorations, engineering and electrical costs, installation, removal, and storage.

The locally made tree came in at $10,000 more expensive than the imported option, the council said.

However, opinions were split on whether to go ahead or opt for a cheaper alternative.

Mr Sowman said it was a big call but the community had criticised the council's drab approach to Christmas in past years. He said some councillors wanted to spend the money while others, including himself, would prefer the option of decorating the town square with Christmas lights, and using the money set aside for the tree elsewhere.

Funding is already in place to decorate a Seymour Square tree which is lit each Christmas, and to upgrade fairy lighting on trees around the town.

"There are some innovative ideas for decorating existing trees. I thought a cheaper option might be to decorate our park here and we could do it for about $20,000 from the current budget and put $100,000 aside for other things.

"Some of the councillors are really keen on a tree and are prepared to spend that amount of money on one."

Mr Sowman declined to say where he thought the money might be better spent.

"The council is looking at all options, including smaller trees, and at the next council meeting we'll need a solution because Christmas is not far away."