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Belsize Park Christmas Lights switch-on cancelled

PUBLISHED: 16:13 24 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:03 25 October 2017

Belsize Park Carols 13.12.16. Jim Broadbent with organiser Linda Grove and sponsor Andrew Thornton from Budgens

Belsize Park Carols 13.12.16. Jim Broadbent with organiser Linda Grove and sponsor Andrew Thornton from Budgens

Archant

The Belsize Park Christmas Lights have been axed after Camden Council are set to chop down two of the trees on the route.

Award winning Harry Potter and Iron Lady star Jim Broadbent, and actor Tom Conti have switched on the lights since the event was set up by community organisers in 2014.

Retired deputy headteacher Linda Grove, of Belsize Lane, had led the group of fundraisers to raise money from donations and sponsorships in order to hold the event.

However the fourth annual switch-on will now be cancelled.

Camden Council are concerned by the risk posed by two adjacent trees on Haverstock Hill which carry the lights, which are infected with a fungus. The council believe the trees could come down in high winds or bad weather.

The trees being felled means the lights cannot be hung in the same way and have to be removed.

As part of the work, gardens at the foot of the trees that have been planted by Grove and other members of the community will also be removed.

This includes the garden planted to mark the imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran.

The trees are currently scheduled to be felled in early December.

The money raised for this years event will be donated to the Royal Free Hospital charity for the public gardens.

There are currently no plans for any other public Christmas events in Belsize.

Organiser, Linda Grove said: “Sadly, the Belsize Lights on Haverstock Hill will not be lit this year nor will I be putting on a show like last year; a great evening with Jim Broadbent that the community loved.

“Camden Council lost many months by not responding to the tree situation earlier leaving me with no option to cancel the show and lights, returning the sponsorship money to our local businesses,” she said.

Councillor Adam Harrison, Cabinet Member for Improving Camden’s Environment said:

“There are two dead trees on Haverstock Hill which could be a risk to passers-by if they are left as they are. As a result, two strings of decorative lights, which span a number of trees, will be taken off so that they can be safely removed.

“To ensure everyone can enjoy the lights this winter, we would like to reiterate that the maintenance for the rest of the trees in the immediate area has been scheduled for February. Furthermore the organisers of the lights have been informed that they can arrange for the two removed strings to be re-erected until the February maintenance is undertaken.”

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