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Fortune Green Christmas tree battle: Camden Society rejoice as council refuse to grant Pines and Needles trading licence

PUBLISHED: 16:43 18 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:35 19 October 2018

Volunteers Stephen, Singh, Tony, and Steven show off Mill Lane Garden Centre newly-delivered Christmas trees.last year. Picture: Mill Lane Garden Centre

Volunteers Stephen, Singh, Tony, and Steven show off Mill Lane Garden Centre newly-delivered Christmas trees.last year. Picture: Mill Lane Garden Centre

Archant

Christmas came early for activists in West Hampstead last night after Camden Council refused to grant christmas tree sellers Pines and Needles a licence to trade from Fortune Green.

The community had rallied against the company after its operation last year lead to the charity-run Mill Lane Garden Centre – who sell Christmas trees from their premises yards away – seeing sales fall by a quarter.

Jill Henry, who lives in the area, started a petition to show the level of opposition to Pines and Needles.

Jill told the Ham&High: “Well, it’s just great news! It’s Christmas come early for the Mill Lane Garden Centre.

“We will continue to work hard in the community for Mill Lane.”

Mill Lane Garden is run by the Camden Society and its profits go directly towards funding its work with people who have learning disabilities.

Camden Society chief exec Denise Largin said: “Well done to the petitioners. This is like getting a great big early Christmas hug from our local community. It feels amazing!

“An offer arrived by email yesterday afternoon. But it is far too late for this year because we have already bought our trees and done our financial planning.”

Fortune Green councillor Flick Rea was among those to take the case to town hall officers.

Cllr Rea told this newspaper: “Pines and Needles said they would work with the community, but they only came through with an offer last week.

“You can’t expect a charity to adapt in a week. Any solution would have had to have been a year or nine months ago at least.”

Last week Pines and Needles offered the Camden Society £30,000 over five years to support their bid and also made overtures to the Friends of Fortune Green group.

Pines and Needles founders Josh and Sam Lyle said: “Pines and Needles is very proud of its charity work over the years and strives to work together with local stakeholders.

“We are hopeful that they will reconsider their positions on what we feel is a positive example of business working together with local stakeholders to enrich and enhance the community.”

Camden Council’s communities chief Cllr Jonathan Simpson said: “Following conversation with the local community, after concerns were raised, it was jointly agreed with the company that they would not trade at this location in 2018.”

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