Joy to the World
If you were writing a new Christmas Panto script and you were looking for an idea, then Leith’s Christmas tree could be it.
Our sad tale begins in Leith with tram works and a modern-day plague.
Constitution Street and Leith Walk ripped up, and then Covid strikes.
The Christmas Tree that was installed and stood proudly in the Kirkgate for many, many years had to find a temporary home, and after little or no consultation a decision was taken by council officers to place a tree in Taylor Gardens instead, with 6 lights (4 working) added to lamp standards.
It’s a nice enough tree, but really not the true location where Leithers would expect it to be, and that is something council officials don’t grasp in their decision making process.
It was supposed to be a temporary move, not permanent, but although it may tick boxes with council officers they miss the point of how the community view things.
When I first asked our elected councillors why the tree hadn’t returned to the Kirkgate, Councillor Faccenda kindly wrote to council officers and received a reply with reasons why it couldn’t go back to the Kirkgate. But all of those ‘problems’ really could have been worked out, had there been a willingness from council public servants.
“Unfortunately due to the installation of the Tram lines we are now unable to provide any festive Lighting on Leith Walk which involves working at height. The installation on a cut Christmas Tree involves using a telehandler to lift the tree into position and then a cherry picker later to install the lights”
Where there’s a will there’s always a way of achieving the impossible?
Someone in the council also had the idea to plant a fir tree in Taylor Gardens which could become the Leith Christmas tree of the future.
In reply to Councillor Faccenda the council said about this tree (- and please don’t laugh but I suppose it’s panto time. It’s behind you!)
The decision to move the Kirkgate Christmas Tree along the road to Taylor Park has enabled us to plant a tree which will hopefully be ready for dressing with lights within the next 5 years or so. We will continue to provide an 8m cut tree here until the planted tree is ready.
Now as I’m of a certain age and don’t have a life, I’m drawn to TV programmes like Gardeners’ World and Landward, and having done a few Christmas Quizzes I can confidently say that planted tree will not be ready in ‘less than 5 years’
Quiz answer is 15 years before an average Christmas tree is ready.
So why do council officers put nonsense in emails and expect us to accept what they say without challenging them? I suppose their get-out clause legally was ‘or so‘.
They apparently know even less about trees than me and it comes across that they really don’t care,and possibly haven’t been down to Leith to have a look because they call it Park not Gardens.
They reply in a confident ‘I know what I’m talking about because I’m a council officer’ manner then they don’t expect to be called out for nonsense speak, they expect the community to just say ok,move on.
However they miss the point that it’s not just about location of a tree on a spreadsheet.
They don’t take into account how people who live in the area view it, and have shared memories of good and bad times
The historic heart of Leith for a tree has, for as long as I can remember, been the Kirkgate beside Queen Victoria’s statue. If you take a walk down there today it looks drab and uncared for, and especially at this time of year it could do with some cheer.
We keep getting told that Leith is hip and has a vibrant community and is a top 10 destination as a place to visit and stay.
You wouldn’t think that if, as a tourist, you arrived at the Foot of the Walk by tram to an area that Christmas seemed to have by-passed all because of council bureaucracy which prior to lockdown had never been an issue.
But if you get it right, people will keep coming back, and spend money in our community, and tell their friends what a great place it is with friendly and helpful locals.
It doesn’t have to be over the top flashy lights.
It just has to be welcoming, which is supposedly what we in Leith are good at.
I would like the community to support me in bringing the tree back to the Kirkgate in 2024 and hopefully with help from local businesses in the Kirkgate, to brighten the place up.
Take a trip out to Davidson Mains Street or the front at South Queensferry and you will see what some communities and businesses can achieve at this time of year.
Let me know what you think, and more importantly hit the email inboxes of your elected Leith Councillors, MP and MSP
Don’t moan, just drop them a quick email: BRING BACK THE CHRISTMAS TREE TO THE KIRKGATE
Yes, I know life is hellish at the moment for many, many people, and you can’t eat Christmas trees, but let’s give it a go for our own pride and self-respect returning.
Thanks, and have a peaceful and enjoyable festive holiday.
Jim Scanlon MBE
Chair, Leith Links Community Council