Kirklees Council will only provide Christmas trees in four town centres this year.

The council is slashing spending to save £47 million in the current financial year and Christmas trees provided to outlying towns and villages face the axe.

The council has stopped “non-essential” spending and is reviewing all its charges with a view to imposing a rise of at least the rate of inflation in a bid to raise revenue.

Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Batley and Cleckheaton town centres will each have a tree but other towns and villages which have had the cost subsidised by the council won’t get any help for Christmas 2023.

Each ward in Kirklees has a £20,000 budget which the three ward councillors decide how to spend. And now the council’s Cabinet member for environment Clr Gwen Lowe says the money for Christmas trees should come from ward budgets.

However, some ward councillors are more active than others and Newsome, for example, has already allocated its budget to other projects.

Newsome councillor Andrew Cooper, also leader of the Green Party group on the council, called for a “windfall tax on inactive councillors.” He said any unspent cash in ward budgets should go instead to pay for Christmas trees.

Clr Cooper added: “It is grossly unfair on councillors who are active in their wards, who engage with their communities on projects, to have to then pay for trees that were previously funded out of Kirklees core budgets.

“Our funding in the Newsome ward is already allocated. We have used our ward budget to support traffic calming schemes, footpath improvements and repairs to the former St John’s Church, which will soon be a community centre and cafe.

Clr Andrew Cooper (right) with Newsome ward colleagues Sue Lee-Richards (left) and Karen Allison at St John’s Church.

“Our proposal is that there is a ‘windfall tax’ on wards which have more than three years funding unallocated, £60,000, to pay for community Christmas trees across Kirklees. If they aren’t using those funds it is only fair that they be reallocated to more active wards.”

In a statement Clr Lowe said: “In previous years the council has been able to subsidise all community trees with the remaining cost paid through ward budgets, community groups or ‘friends of’ groups.

“The council has never offered free trees across the board to communities. It has, on occasion, been able to provide a handful of free trees dependent on individual agreements with community groups throughout the district.

“Due to the current financial situation, though, the council is no longer in a position to subsidise community trees so costs would have to be met fully by the ward or group.

“We will, however, continue to support groups who wish to put up trees in their communities with sourcing, delivery, installation, lighting and disposal.”