Mahfouz’s £13K Christmas tree – it took three taxpayers to pay for it

xmastree

Ealing’s recycled plastic bottle Christmas tree has been causing a minor stir this week. No doubt Labour’s councillor Bassam Mahfouz, who holds the Transport and Environment portfolio, thought that it would be bracing and improving for residents to be hectored about re-cycling at Christmas. It is quite right for the council to promote re-cycling for many different reasons. It saves the council money and allows it to keep council tax low. It often provides high quality waste streams that can be used to displace new raw materials and save energy. All good stuff.

But Mahfouz’s Christmas tree is pretty insulting if you are a tax payer. It looks pretty enough at night to be sure but during the day it looks drab and the railings around it are reminiscent of road works. The insult is the mighty £12,961 cost of this project.

I don’t know how you get to a place in your head where you think this is a reasonable way to spend taxpayers’ money. The latest figures I could find (2011) for earnings of residents of the Ealing Central and Acton constituency where this tree has been placed state that the average (median) annual gross pay of residents is £31,198. With a personal allowance of £9,440 this tax year and all the rest of this income being taxed at 20% the average person is paying £4,352 of tax in the constituency. By my reckoning it took three Ealing taxpayers a year to pay enough tax to pay for this nonsense. Never again please.

Labour’s favourite insult at the full council meeting last night is that the Conservatives are out of touch. Perhaps Mahfouz should look in the mirror.

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4 Responses to Mahfouz’s £13K Christmas tree – it took three taxpayers to pay for it

  1. Simon says:

    It they keep recycling it won’t it save money in the long run?

  2. Phil says:

    Simon,

    It is a nice thought isn’t it? In practice it is very unlikely.

    Officers told us that last year they spent £1,500 on a conventional tree, lights, set up, etc. In theory if they used this one 8 or 9 times it would cost the same. But in practice this is a novelty tree that will be pretty unwelcome even if it gets used only once more.

    In theory the council can store it for free at the Greenford depot. First off nothing is free. Secondly, by the time a council employee has taken it apart, driven it to Greenford, bought it back again next year, sorted out any broken or lost bits you have spent another few hundred quid already.

    The whole re-use thing is just a fig leaf to cover the embarrassment of having been found out spending thirteen grand on a tree. A tree that looks rubbish in daylight.

    I spent £50 on my tree. I find it all a bit perplexing.

  3. Ben says:

    Not only is it hideous, it’s also a vulgar waste of energy and waste plastic, which could have been recycled into products with real utility. Is this really greener than growing a tree and mulching it for the borough’s parks? I doubt it.

  4. Philippa says:

    5p per resident?

    I wish it had looked better in daylight.

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