Saturday, 17 April 2021

Christmas tree supplier switched to cheaper firm

Shops may no longer have to fund cost of mini Christmas trees

THE company that has provided Henley’s small Christmas trees for the last 10 years has been replaced.

WindowFlowers, of Burnham, lost its deal with the town council because it was said to be too expensive, charging £49 for each one of the 165 illuminated trees.

Instead, members of the council’s events sub-committee agreed to appoint Light Angels, which will charge £41.45 plus VAT. This includes all the electrical work required to install and connect the trees above shops, businesses and homes in the town centre.

As a result, the council will spend £6,839.25 on the trees, a saving of more than £1,200. Light Angels, which is based in Ash Vale, has been given a two-year contract.

A report to the committee said the council’s Christmas events budget was £11,000, so the cost of the trees was “significant”.

It continued: “Staff time also needs to be added for the administration of the sale of the trees.”

Town clerk Janet Wheeler, who investigated whether it would be cheaper for the council to buy its own lights, said: “Most of the money goes on the installation and labour. The trees themselves and the lights are a small amount of the cost. I hadn’t realised that with WindowFlowers we had an additional cost because they are not electricians. The Light Angels quote does include this.”

The report said: “The lights will be leased rather than purchased and Light Angels offers a free call-out service should the lighting be faulty and fail. Other call-outs would be chargeable.

“In order to mitigate the cost of the small Christmas trees, Henley Town Council will offer the trees to residents and businesses at a subsidised rate.”

Councillor David Eggleton said the council should consider leaving the brackets for the trees in place on buildings in order to avoid damage by repeatedly drilling holes into listed buildings to affix them. He said: “All they have to do is supply the tree and connect it into the socket. Then we don’t have to keep paying for the bracket. You don’t have to keep drilling holes in the buildings.”

The trees will be offered to the public for £42 plus VAT each, compared with £38 plus VAT last year.

Miles Watson-Smyth, who owns WindowFlowers and lives in Medmenham, said: “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to decorate Henley at Christmas time over the last 10 years and would be pleased to help with the new arrangements.

“Yes, I know we charge and we’re a contractor, but if somebody was to ask me to do this elsewhere I wouldn’t. I do it because I love Henley.

“It is incredibly complicated because there are plenty of challenges associated with it. Hopefully, everybody can agree our staff have been very helpful and done their best to deal with the very varying, site specific details.

“I don’t envy the new contractor trying to sort that out — they will have a challenge.”

Mr Watson-Smyth said his company didn’t deal with the electrics but it could have sub-contracted the work.

WindowFlowers still supplies the town’s winter and summer hanging baskets.

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