A Christmas tree... or a wizard's hat?
Residents of a Leicestershire village are pleading with their parish council to get rid of a bizarre Christmas tree that's costing them thousands of pounds.
Dubbed the Wizard's Hat, the bright blue, 25-foot tree has been rented by Birstall Parish Council for three years, at a cost of £6,196 per year, plus £2,600 storage costs.
The parish council chose the tree after complaints about last year's decorations, enabled by the fact that it had £8,000 of spare funds.
But there's now a petition for it to be removed and replaced with something more traditional instead. More than 200 people have already signed.
"What were they thinking? £24,000 of our taxpayers' money. I work hard for my money and resent my taxes being wasted on this," says local resident Brenda Bentham.
"I love a Christmas tree, but not this Disney-themed tin thing. Loughborough have a wonderful large pine tree. I bet it didn't cost £8,000."
And, adds Beverley Robinson, "This is nothing like a Christmas tree. I would rather have nothing at all than this. It would be a waste of money if it only cost £1, and to say they have £8,000 in the kitty should mean that they spend this money wisely and not waste it."
The parish council tells the Loughborough Echo that, after last year's criticism, it wanted to try something different.
"The council hoped to restore a sense of pride in Birstall's Christmas celebrations and put us on a par with our neighbouring parishes," it says in a statement.
It says that health and safety laws mean it can't put up a large tree itself, and adds: "We understand that residents have concerns about the expense, but it actually calculates out as a one-off payment of 71p of the council tax for each person on the electoral roll for 2015."
Birstall parish councillors should take heart from the fact that they're not the only ones to get stick for the quality of their Christmas lights this year.
Residents of Tiverton in Devon recently pointed out that their lights this year look for all the world like a string of sparkly knickers hanging from a washing line - hitting a 'bum note', according to the local paper.