Tweed mayor Katie Milne has welcomed Murwillumbah business chamber’s move to pull out of a controversial plan to erect huge plastic Christmas trees in CBD areas around the shire at a cost of $60,000.
Instead, the chamber is working on its own plan to display a recycled Christmas tree featuring solar lights, for next year’s festive season.
Cr Milne praised the Murwillumbah District Business Chamber’s plans for a display tailored to Murwillumbah’s art deco theme, saying she was ‘very pleased’ the chamber had ‘chosen to take the more sustainable and creative option’ she had hoped and lobbied for.
Late last month, council’s pro-development faction pushed through a late item during an extraordinary meeting of Tweed Shire Council to get the shire to approve the big spend, most of it to be borne by ratepayers, for the decorated trees in the CBDs of Tweed Heads, Kingscliff and Murwilumbah.
Cr Milne was alone in opposing the plan, but shire general manager Troy Green, who recommended the spend, said the three chambers had promised to fund $35,000 of the cost and ratepayers the rest.
Mr Green later issued a press release praising the ‘joint initiative’ which ‘would help to inspire stronger community spirit, by encouraging greater community celebrations’.
Cr Milne, who wanted a cheaper recycled version of Christmas trees instead, was outnumbered in the 4-1 vote (Crs Warren Polglase, Phil Youngblutt and Carolyn Byrne joined by Cr Barry Longland, with Cr Gary Bagnall absent).
Cr Polglase is an executive member of the Tweed Heads business chamber, Cr Byrne is with the Kingscliff chamber while Cr Youngblutt is on the Murwillumbah chamber.
Youngblutt and Byrne are involved in all three business chambers.
(See previous story at https://www.echo.net.au/2015/10/tweeds-60000-giant-plastic-xmas-trees-upset-mayor/)
Yesterday, Mr Green issued another press release about the trees, saying the Murwillumbah chamber had pulled out of this year’s plan and was getting on with its more greener option.
Mr Green said council was told last week that the chamber was ‘unable to provide an adequate financial contribution for this year’ and ‘instead, the chamber has indicated its intention to display a tree design which built upon the town’s art deco and “art town” theme’.
‘The Christmas tree-shaped public art sculpture would be made from recycled metal and feature solar lights,’ he said.
‘Its art deco styling would be an attraction which capitalised on the large number of people visiting the Tweed Regional Art Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre.’
Council resolved to consider funding the chamber’s project in next year’s budget.
Mr Green said that ‘in the interim, the chamber is proposing to fund and install a pine tree in 2015, for residents to decorate during a community Christmas party on 5 December, and will hold a Christmas tree competition to raise funds to have the tree sculpture completed in 2016’.
‘Schools, businesses and other organisations are invited to design and construct a variety of styles of Christmas trees for the competition, with entries to be displayed in Murwillumbah’s Queen Street Citadel from December 5 until Christmas Eve,’ he said.
Murwillumbah chamber president Toni Zuschke said ‘each of these initiatives are in response to the mountain of community feedback we’ve received since the giant Christmas trees idea was announced’.
Mayor Milne was labelled ‘Mayor Grinch’ for her stance against the plastic trees by the Tweed Daily News (well known for its enthusiastic support of the National Party faction in council).
But she was encouraged by Murwillumbah’s stand for a ‘more sustainable and creative option’.
‘It’s important we spread the Christmas message of love and caring to not only our fellow humans but to our planet as well,’ she told Echonetdaily.
‘I commend the Murwillumbah Chamber for involving the community and also creating work for one of our local artists,’ she said.
‘This will really help Murwillumbah stand out from the crowd and I wouldn’t be surprised if next year’s tree is featured on international Christmas tree websites.’
Cr Milne said it was disappointing she had been labeled a’s a ‘grinch’ by the partisan media outlet, ‘simply because I was trying to be sustainable and cost conscious’.
Mr Green said the Tweed Heads and Kingscliff business chambers were liaising with council to finalise plans and financial contributions for the giant plastic Christmas trees in their town centres.
He said the trees in Kingscliff and Tweed Heads would be installed in early December and would be accompanied by a competition for Tweed children aged 12 and under to officially turn on the Christmas tree lights.
For more information about the Murwillumbah District Business Chamber competition, visit http://www.murwillumbahchamber.com.au