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Ballyclare folk give short shrift to 'pathetic' Christmas tree

By Brett Campbell

Published 24/11/2016

The 'tiny' Christmas tree in the town, which the council says is 30ft high
The 'tiny' Christmas tree in the town, which the council says is 30ft high
Last year's seemingly taller effort

A Christmas tree erected in Ballyclare has been slammed by locals for being too short.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has been forced to raise its height in response to the criticism - but that may not halt the attacks.

It was erected on Monday - but soon afterwards staff were deployed from the council and given the task of measuring its height following complaints that it was far too small.

Ulster Unionist councillor David Arthurs said it wasn't acceptable, and called on the council to replace it.

"When I saw the tree, I thought it looked tiny. No way is it good enough for the town. I have made my thoughts clear to the relevant officers at the council and have asked them to replace it."

The council confirmed that the height of the tree was 30ft - which it said was the same specification as previous years.

But residents of the town are sceptical.

Many took to social media to express their disapproval.

Commenting on Facebook, one resident said: "Nice to see Ballyclare getting short straw again! Mini Christmas tree going up in square, bet Antrim tree still as big as last year."

Another said: "The problem is that it's smaller than the other trees around the square."

Staff at Russell's, a shop directly opposite the tree, were among those voicing criticism.

One worker said: "They are saying it's the same size as last year.

"I have been here 32 years and that's the smallest tree I have seen in the town.

"Staff and customers are laughing at it."

A colleague added: "It's an absolute disgrace."

Yesterday a passer-by said: "It's pathetic and it's crooked.

"It would be better to plant a tree and let it grow."

Ballyclare councillor Vera McWilliam told the Belfast Telegraph: "The council is responding to complaints as best they can. Arrangements have been made to raise the tree.

"I am confident that by Saturday, when the lights are switched on, the tree will have been raised and will be beautifully dressed. Hopefully that will erase all anxieties."

Mr Arthurs said: "My understanding is that the tree has been raised... I am disappointed with the situation.

"I have not yet seen the tree raised and decorated, but I still think the initial effort by the council was poor.

"We need to be realistic about our town centres. We have organised a market this weekend and have been planning that, and then the council go and put up a mediocre Christmas tree

"I hope that, come Saturday, the people of Ballyclare are happy.

"Going forward, we as councillors in Ballyclare will make sure that the people of Ballyclare get the tree they deserve."

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