Saddleworth’s ‘living trees’ can grow Christmas spirit

SADDLEWORTH neighbourhoods may have a smaller Christmas focal point this year but their living trees will make things bigger and better in the long run.

People living in Grotton have helped meet the cost of the ‘living tree’ that has now been planted at Grotton Hollow.

Springhead also has its own, on the corner of Ashbrook Road, and Saddleworth West and Lees Councillor Alicia Marland believes they will mean long-term benefits for the area.

She said: “It’s two things really. It’s a cost saving for the ward councillors, because every year they cost us.

Residents joined ward Councillors at the living Christmas tree at Grotton Hollow

“The cut Christmas trees for Springhead and Grotton each cost £500. Over five or 10 years, people can work out the total cost.

“That comes directly out of our ward budget and then a council team has to come and install them.

“I’m not a Christmas killjoy as I love that time of year but to spend this amount of money each year for three trees that are only in situ for six weeks and are then removed and composted seemed an absolute waste of money.

“So ultimately, by buying a living Christmas tree, it may have cost us more in initial outlay but long-term we won’t have that cost going out so we can provide more support to community groups.

“It was too late to do make a change for last Christmas but in early 2023 I contacted Oldham Council’s Parks team, which was very keen to assist and we quickly identified two locations in Grotton and Springhead that were suitable for living trees.

A living Christmas Tree has also been planted on Ashbrook Road in Springhead

“Unfortunately, we have yet to find a suitable location for a permanent tree in Lees but that search will recommence in 2024.”

Grotton and Springhead’s latest additions also add to the neighbourhoods’ green credentials at a time when the planet is at the forefront of many minds.

And while they may not be as big in 2023, they will be soon.

Cllr Marland added as she helped in Grotton: “We want to get some fencing around. So perhaps we can pay for that, but also there’s green credentials.

“Not chopping down that many trees every year, we shouldn’t be doing it so much anymore. So getting a living tree that will grow and the council will manage is great.

“They did say it wouldn’t be as big but it’s a nice size now. They like to plant up to three metres in height to let it bed in and get the roots in.

“People may be thinking, ‘Wow, it’s only small,’ but this tree will be a fantastic size and a really stunning centrepiece for the Christmas display.

“We knew from the start it wouldn’t be as big but one day, it will be a decent size.

“My long-term goal was always to have more available funds in our budget for sharing with local groups but unfortunately our budget has been reduced this year and most of it is already preallocated to other areas including planting, grit bins and Whit Friday.

“But this project will save us thousands of pounds over the coming years, stopped numerous cut trees being destroyed and the carbon imprint will be improved – a huge win-win on all counts!”

There was little chance of people living in Grotton being against having a living tree planted – Grotton Residents Association helped pay for it.

The Lees, Springhead and Grotton Business Hub, through Karen Jakeman, also helped with the bill and installation, while Ashes Lane Community Centre, through chair Cllr Barbara Beeley, also helped.

Cllr Marland is looking for a community member to support the project by providing a wooden fence surround around the tree.

Anna Oldfield, of the Grotton and District Residents Association, said: “Alicia brought it to us and we thought it was a great idea.

“We said we were more than happy to contribute to it. Funding has come from Grotton residents.

“We said, ‘We’ve got some money to be able to put towards it.’ It was a no brainer basically and I’m very pleased with it. It’s a good size for a beginner!”

One Reply to “Saddleworth’s ‘living trees’ can grow Christmas spirit”

  1. “A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm and that we all go through it together.”

    Garrison Keillor

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