Page last updated at 11:31 GMT, Tuesday, 6 October 2009 12:31 UK

Town hit by lost Christmas tree

A police investigation has begun after unidentified workmen cut down and chipped an Oxfordshire town's Christmas tree.

Witnesses said the men arrived on Saturday at 1430 BST at Vale Avenue, Grove with a truck and chipping machine and disposed of the tree on the site.

Planted in 2006, it has been used each year since and was surrounded by a 1.2m(4ft) fence.

At first it was thought the tree had been stolen.

Why would anybody cut down a tree so soon before Christmas?
Graham Munday, Grove Parish Council

A parish councillor reported the theft to the police on Saturday evening after noticing the tree was missing.

Graham Munday from Grove Parish Council, said: "I couldn't believe it.

"I thought, why would anybody cut down a tree so soon before Christmas?

"You would wait until a few weeks before Christmas if you want to sell it on."

Subsequent enquiries revealed the tree had in fact been chipped by the men, who arrived at the site in an unmarked van.

"Police think they were possibly bona-fide tree surgeons who have taken the wrong tree down," said Mr Munday.

"But how could they have mistaken it?"

Thames Valley Police appealed for more witnesses to come forward to try and identify the men behind the incident.

A local developer said he would replace the tree in time for Christmas.

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