BURNHAM and Highbridge Town Council said it will not be installing a Christmas tree outside The Victoria Hotel in Burnham-on-Sea this year.

This year is the first year of a new Christmas lights contract, which will be managed by the town council, to provide lights in both towns.

The lights were previously done by Burnham Chamber of Trade and Highbridge Chamber of Trade but they were unable to do it this year.

The council said the new festive designs for this year's lights are intended to enhance the street scene and will bring a number of changes, one of which is the siting of one of the 20ft town Christmas trees in Burnham.

Each year a Christmas tree is usually sited outside the Victoria Hotel in Burnham but this year there will no tree at the venue.

Sam Winter, town clerk of Burnham and Highbridge Town Council, said: "Covid-19 has meant that there can be no town centre switch-on event in Victoria Street this year and the council has recognised that it should seek to display the town Christmas trees in a suitable public space that doesn’t compromise social distancing.

"Due to the way the council is funded by the taxpayer, it should exercise caution when using public money to support a business.

"Councillors therefore agreed not to apply to the new owners of the Victoria Hotel to site the tree on its business premises, or any other business premises.”

The town council will provide and install three Christmas trees across the parish this year.

There will be one based on the public green adjacent to Abingdon Street, one on the public green adjacent to the Highbridge Community Hall and one outside the Princess Theatre & Arts Centre.

The council said the tree outside the Princess Theatre & Arts Centre is not intended as a long-term solution and it is hoped that the tree will become a focal point for a public square at a nearby location in the future.

Cllr Mike Facey, mayor of Burnham, said: “The new owners of the Victoria Hotel have said they intend to continue to display a tree in their grounds and have plans to use it to raise funds for charity.

"Although the council is unable to provide the Victoria Hotel with a Christmas tree, we will be pleased to assist the new owners in promotion of their charitable initiatives and hope they will enjoy the new lights display decorating Victoria Street.”