Ealing’s recycled plastic bottle Christmas tree has been causing a minor stir this week. No doubt Labourâ€™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 Mahfouzâ€™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 Â£12,961 cost of this project.
I donâ€™t know how you get to a place in your head where you think this is a reasonable way to spend taxpayersâ€™ 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 Â£31,198. With a personal allowance of Â£9,440 this tax year and all the rest of this income being taxed at 20% the average person is paying Â£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.