How much North East councils spent on Christmas trees

Councils in the North East spend thousands of pounds on Christmas trees every year in a bid to bring festive cheer to their residents.

Monday, 23rd December 2019, 1:26 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd December 2019, 2:55 pm
The Christmas tree going up in Keel Square. Picture by Craig Thompson.

Freedom of Information Act requests submitted by the Chronicle have revealed that six councils across the region spent £17,437 between them last year.

And this year the same authorities so far confirmed they spent a total of £13,720 on festive foliage.

Sunderland spends thousands on the nine Christmas trees it buys each year, with the city shelling out £8,111 in 2017 and £8,795 last year.

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Sunderland City Council was not able to confirm how much it had spent on trees this year but its tallest tree was over 12 metres high.

South Tyneside Council was the biggest spender, splashing out £7,979.25 on trees in 2016, £8,592 last year, and £8,922 this year.

A spokesman for the authority pointed out that it buys 11 trees a year and vowed to carry on bringing Christmas cheer to the borough in the face of budget cuts.

The borough has four trees in South Shields and two in Boldon with Westoe.

Jarrow, East Boldon, Cleadon and Hebburn all have one tree each. The tallest tree in the authority area is 14 metres high.

A council spokesman said: “Despite the financial challenges we face, we remain committed to bringing festive cheer to the borough at Christmas time.

“Unlike other areas, South Tyneside has three distinct town centres as well as a number of villages which is why we buy 11 Christmas trees. The minor cost increases reflect inflation and the rising costs of transporting the trees.

“We believe these trees help to create a festive atmosphere for local residents while also helping to draw more visitors and business into the borough.”

North Tyneside Council spent £4,020 in 2017, £3,920 in 2018 and £4,448 this year,. It purchases 18 trees a year, with the tallest being between 10 metres and 15 metres high.

Other local authorities took a more frugal approach with Gateshead and Northumberland spending much less.

Northumberland County Council was one of the lowest spenders, coughing up a mere £50 per year since 2017.

The trees, which cost £25 each, are in the main reception and restaurant of the County Hall and are 2.1 metres high.

The Christmas tree outside of County Hall isn’t paid for by the council because its a donation.

“While we love Christmas as much as anyone we realise the cost of trees ultimately comes out of the public purse,” a spokesperson for the authority added.

“Many of the fantastic trees seen in town and village centres in Northumberland are paid for by the local town and parish councils.

“Our two, in the reception and restaurant areas of County Hall, cost a total of £50.”

Meanwhile, Gateshead Council buys three Christmas trees per year, with the tallest being just over four metres.

In 2016 this cost £236, in 2017 it was £380 and in 2018 it was £260.

A decades old friendship with a Norwegian city means that Newcastle gets a massive tree for free.

For more than 70 years, Newcastle has received a gift of a Christmas tree from the people of Bergen, in Norway, to symbolise the city’s gratitude for Tyneside’s support and friendship during the Second World War.