Page last updated at 13:35 GMT, Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Festive tree an 'insult' to town

Peterlee Christmas tree
The tree is said to look like "something from a skip"

A Christmas tree has been branded an "insult" to a County Durham town.

The tree was to form the centrepiece of festive celebrations at Peterlee's Castle Dene Shopping Centre, but turned out to be smaller than expected.

It was put up and decorated with coloured lights, but was described by one shopper as "the worst Christmas tree in the country".

A local councillor said it looked more like a twig than a tree and she had been inundated by complaints.

The lights were switched on by pop star Natasha Hamilton, from girl band Atomic Kitten, who performed a string of hits in front of the tree.

'Awful thing'

Councillor Joan Maslin said she had received many complaints from residents about the state of the tree.

"I would describe this tree as just like a twig. To be honest, it looks like something that people would throw in a skip after Christmas.

"If the shopping centre couldn't have afforded to put up a better Christmas tree they shouldn't have bothered.

"It is an insult to Peterlee."

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The lights were switched on by pop star Natasha Hamilton

Mike Weston, shopping centre manager, said he was as disappointed as anybody with the state of the tree.

"We ordered a standard Christmas tree from a supplier, and when this awful thing arrived it was too late to send it back before the switch-on with Natasha Hamilton," he said.

"There was nothing we could do about it, so we were stuck with it."

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