Kirkdale Christmas Tree Cancelled

Lewisham has cancelled Christmas. At least as far as Kirkdale High Street is concerned, with a late decsion to cancel our popular Christmas tree and therefore our annual singalong around the lighting up festivities!

Here’s a little reminder of jollier days …
[Hmm a number of edits later, I still can’t work out what I’m doing wrong with uploading a photo … bear with!]

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I’m really very sorry to hear about that. Any specific reason?

If you aren’t too down-heartened and still want to get your carol singing on, the tree outside Forest Hill station is scheduled to be lit around 4:15pm on Saturday, December 7th with singing as well. More details to come but keep and eye as well on the Forest Hill Society’s twitter and facebook pages.

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Gosh, I can see me!

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It was confirmed in July that we were having a Kirkdale tree this year, paid for as usual by the FH ward councillor discretionary funds. I can only assume our new councillors don’t feel the same as Paul Upex and Maya Hilton. Maya and Paul were always very supportive of efforts to revive Kirkdale’s fortunes.

We tried to keep Kirkdale’s tree switch on celebrations more children’s Christmas song orientated that choir/carol led, encouraging everyone to give it their all - whatever quality of voices they had or didn’t have. I usually get intimidated into silence by too slick a choir, but I never felt that with Kirkdale. (Who knew Jingle Bells had so many verses?) We’ve had dancers too. And the local traders really came up trumps with yummy food and Belinda’s luscious mulled wine.

I think the three SEE3 centres (FH, Sydenham and Kirkdale) all deserved to have their own complementary but different styles of celebration. We were worth it.

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Due to a reduction in local Assembly funding this year, we could not afford two Christmas trees in the ward. With our central government funding being cut by over 60% since 2010, savings needed to be found. We decided to keep one tree by the station.

It looks like austerity has left Christmas in Kirdale a little less brighter this year.

I don’t think you can blame “austerity” for your change of heart Leo. If the Council can give £30,000 of taxpayers’ money to Baxter’s Field then £150 for a Christmas tree is hardly going to break the bank. And what happened between the summer when you confirmed there would be a Kirkdale Christmas tree this year and 16th October which was the first anyone knew that you and your fellow councillors - Sophie Davis and Peter Bernards - had reversed that decision? I am assuming you had some kind of vote amongst the three of you. Was it unanimous?

I shan’t go into the saga of what happened to the tree we sourced for Kirkdale last year as it’s not the time and place but I am happy to do so by PM to any interested local resident.

The tree would of cost approx £1730, £502 for the tree + an approx £1228 fee to Skanska to rig up the lighting. We were informed in September by the local assemblies coordinator that we did not have the funds and unanimously voted to have one tree in the ward and place this in the centre of Forest Hill ward, next to the station. I apologise for the short notice of this turnaround and I do understand your disappointment.

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Leo (and @SophieDavis and @PeterBernards too) I’m sorry but that’s a ridiculous price. I understood that Lewisham usually pay about £500 for each of our Christmas street trees.

But what I can confirm is that last year I and another local resident negotiated with a supplier for a particularly beautiful tree for Kirkdale (15 or 18ft if memory serves - again I need to check on my PC to confirm the height). What I am absolutely certain off is that that tree cost £150. I know it was a special price but if we can do it I would have hoped Lewisham could, especially as they buy so many.

[As an aside, as it happens the beautiful one that was picked out for us wasn’t the one that eventually got erected in Kirkdale, as Skanska stored it in their yard and it got switched for a rather threadbare tree that the Council had obtained for another position. Yes, I do know where our very beautiful tree ended up :wink: but even the rather threadbare changling was a welcome centrepiece to the Kirkdale celebrations.]

If we’re paying thousands to Skanska per tree then that’s a crazy contract the Council has gotten us into.

Just to give a bit of background for those who weren’t at that meeting (June or July) when we talked about the Christmas trees: we had been discussing street trees in anticipstion of a talk Stuart was going to give at the assembly (and a very interestingcand inspirational talk it was @stuart checkley) and I asked if we could have a living Christmas tree for Kirkdale for this year, so that it could liven the street scene year round and be decorated for other events. I was told no but that a standard tree had been budgeted for Kirkdale for this year. I then said I would try to help look for a sponsor for a living Christmas tree for 2020. Of course there’s not time to do that now for 2019.