High ‘tree-son’ in Woodhall?

Graham Keegan - at the centre of the row over Christmas trees in Woodhal Spa EMN-160318-151941001
Graham Keegan - at the centre of the row over Christmas trees in Woodhal Spa EMN-160318-151941001

It did not take long for the season of goodwill to end in Woodhall Spa amid a row over claims some businesses refused to pay for Christmas trees.

Every year, volunteers put up trees and lights outside shops to create a festive atmosphere and attractvisitors.

It is a long-established tradition and resident GrahamKeegan - who is also a parish councillor - was among the volunteers. This year, they put up more than 50 trees.

Mr Keegan says the idea is supported by the parish council who invoice individual businesses for £15.

However, he claims earlier this month, four businesses had still to pay.

So, he put a poster on the community noticeboar, naming and shaming those businesses.

That brought an outcry from several businesses - and complaints to the parish council.

The council quickly took the notice down and issued a statement, stressing Mr Keegan had acted without their approval.

In the meantime, Mr Keegan admits he was the victim of personal insults on social media.

Mr Keegan explained: “I was one of the volunteers who gave my time putting up the trees in pretty awful weather.

“I think it is totally unfair and insconsiderate that by March, four businesses had still not paid.

“I decided put up the notice. naming and shaming them. I wasn’t hiding anything. I even put my name on the notice.”

Mr Keegan stressed the vast majority of businesses were supportive of village projects - like the trees - and had an excellent relationship with the parish council.

He adds that as a result of the poster, three of the four businesses did pay.

Mr Keegan added: “I think there were some pretty silly things said about me on social media but to be honest, I’m too busy to read them.”

He accepts some people were upset by the poster but said he would ‘do the same again.’

He stressed he had acted as a resident -and not acouncillor.

Parish council chairman David Clarke said: “It (the notice) urged residents to make their feelings known directly to the businesses involved.

“After consulting with the parish clerk, it was decided the notice was inappropriate and was removed.”

Coun Clark confirmed a ‘local businessman and dignitary’ had warned Mr Keegan’s actions could jeopardise support for future projects..

He added: “I want to make it clear this notice was not authorised, endorsed, approved or otherwise supported by the Parish Council.”