Stoke & Staffordshire

Christmas tree arrives in Cannock after businesses rally

One of Cannock's trees ahead of the switch on
Image caption Traders in Cannock helped arrange Christmas celebrations on Saturday

Christmas has come to a town that was going to be left without a tree because of council cuts.

Residents in Cannock, Staffordshire, said it was "unbelievable" the council had to give up its responsibility for providing decorations.

But businesses came together to get two trees and arranged a switch-on event which included a fun fair on Saturday.

Chloe Avon, chair of the Cannock Town Centre Partnership, said everyone was "really happy" to see it come together.

Cannock Chase District Council said it gave up its responsibility for providing a tree and Christmas decorations and handed responsibility over to the Cannock Chase Traders' Association in a bid to save £33,590 a year.

The Labour-run authority previously said it was "actively supporting" the efforts to get a tree.

Image caption Businessman Craig Watts personally helped finance the event

The two trees were provided by the Forestry Commission.

A number of local businesses helped to organise and finance Saturday's event, including Craig Watts from Craig Watts Holdings.

He said: "We do a lot business in Cannock and have done for 30 odd years and Cannock has given us a lot.

"It is only right we give something back."

Rising Brook Vehicle Rental donated a truck to be used as Santa's sleigh, which was decorated by the New Life charity.

Chief executive Sheila Brown said: "We didn't have a Christmas spirit in Cannock, we have got it now."

Image caption Sheila Brown, from New Life charity, said the community had come together

Sheila Dunning, from the traders' association, said many businesses were struggling to "afford to contribute as they were taking time to pay rents".

Ms Avon, who runs a juice bar in the town, said: "It has been a real struggle for traders and with Christmas coming up we knew it was going to go downhill if we didn't do something fast.

"There has been a nice atmosphere in the town, compared to when there was no tree."

Image copyright Andy Coombes
Image caption Residents had said it was "unbelievable" Cannock did not have a Christmas tree

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