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Wanstead, you SHALL have a Christmas tree

treeThe crowdfunding drive to pay for a Christmas tree for Wanstead has smashed through its target. At the time of writing, £3,646 had been pledged by people who wanted to ensure the traditional tree would be installed on George Green.

Redbridge Council withdrew its £3,000 funding for the tree as part of budget cuts.

The fund was organised by Conservative councillor Colin Cronin, who says on the crowdfunding site that the surplus “will be used to fund projects in our local area to continue enhancing our beautiful Wanstead”. He suggests a new swing, a bench or tree, and says suggestions will be voted on by the community after Christmas.

As well as many small donations, there were two pledges of £750 (from estate agents Petty Son & Prestwich and Keatons) and one of £500. Donations can still be made until the end of October.

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Wanstead Library closure – what about the overdue books?

Wanstead Library is approaching the end of its six-week closure, which has been caused by roof replacement. Anyone worried about their overdue books, who hasn’t been able or bothered to renew them online, can rest easy. A council spokesman told Wansteadium:

“The library will reopen on Monday 6 October. Items borrowed from Wanstead Library which were due back during the closure period have been automatically renewed to dates after the library is due to reopen. Library customers can check their accounts online or contact another library if they are unsure and they will not receive any fines for this period for items borrowed from Wanstead.”

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Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree

A crowdfunding effort which was launched to raise £3,000 for a Christmas tree for George Green after funding was pulled by Redbridge Council is on the verge of reaching its target.

The crowdfunding, which at the time of writing had raised more than £2,800, has been organised by local Conservatives who say the Labour-run council has behaved “like grinches”. Deputy leader of the council, Wes Streeting, told the Wanstead Guardian the decision was “purely financial” – and that he supported the crowdfunding drive.

The council is making budget cuts in a number of areas: it has said it is “facing the toughest financial pressures that have been seen for a generation”. The cuts have (as we’ve reported) included stopping the system of Area Committees, which will be replaced with a new system of less frequent “local forums” later in the year.

The Christmas tree has in the past been paid from a discretionary spending fund held by the area committee. The fund has also been used for various other purposes including speed gun tests on busy roads, CCTV and flowers on Wanstead High Street, part of the renovation of the High Stone, and the Wanstead Festival. It is not yet clear whether these kinds of things will continue to be funded.

The tree is traditionally illuminated in a Friday-evening ceremony attended by the mayor, complete with Salvation Army and carols, an event which is always popular with schoolchildren. Lights in trees on Wanstead High Street are already installed and will only need turning on. The tree itself is something of a festive landmark, though as the tweet below shows, does not always pass without comment.

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