TREELESS: Lack of funding will see Byron Bay without a Christmas tree in the city centre this year.
TREELESS: Lack of funding will see Byron Bay without a Christmas tree in the city centre this year.

Bah, Byron cancels Christmas tree

BYRON Shire’s green councillors have been labelled ‘miserable’ and ‘mean spirited’ after refusing a plea to help put up the town Christmas tree.

Business group Byron United says the Christmas tree that has been erected in front of the town clock for the past two years is unlikely to go up this year due to council’s lack of support.

The group put in requests for $10,000 sponsorship as well as traffic control during the installation and dismantling of the tree, but council this week knocked back both.

“It’s time for a reality check about what we need to spend council’s money on...and I don’t think it’s here,” Mayor Jan Barham said.

Cr Barham also suggested the tree was tacky because it was plastic and made in China, and said she would have preferred a permanent, tasteful sculpture to what the town had ended up with.
Byron United initially raised the funds to buy the tree in an effort to bring Byron Bay some Christmas joy.

Executive officer Diana Ricketts said there was a celebration when it was erected each year and children got a huge thrill out of it.

She said members of the business group had previously funded the erection of the tree, but the global financial crisis had bit hard and left them with a shortfall this year.

“It’s most disappointing the council can’t support us in this way,” she said.

Head of Byron United, Ed Ahern, went one step further, calling councillors ‘a bunch of mean spirited bastards’.

But according to Cr Basil Cameron, businesses should be digging deeper and giving back some of the financial Christmas cheer they receive each year.

"I don’t believe the business community is suffering from the global financial crisis. Everywhere I went after last year’s New Year’s Eve I was told enthusiastically by everyone in the business community that they’d had the best Christmas ever.”

Cr Diane Woods was among the minority when she made a speech in favour of the tree. "Do we have to have a bah, humbug approach to this?

"Everywhere I go at Christmas there’s some decorations and there’s some help from the local council. "If they have no assistance from council, they may not be able to do it, and that will be really sad for Byron,” she said.

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