While Spring is finally in the air, the number of waste Christmas trees collected by Pembrokeshire council has come under the spotlight.

Pembrokeshire had previously run a free collection service for waste Christmas trees post-Christmas, but in November senior councillors backed a £5 charge for the collection of real Christmas trees, previously identified as a potential cost saving of £10,000.

After the charge was introduced, a special ‘Christmas tree call-in’ meeting was held later that month, following a request made by Councillor Huw Murphy

Cllr Murphy hoped the charge could be overturned, warning: “The inevitable consequence of the introduction of a tree collection fee will be more littering and fly tipping of Christmas trees by people who may have no means (transport) to dispose of at a waste recycling centre.”

However, his call-in, labelled by opponents as “frivolous, or even vexatious,” was defeated by nine votes to four, meaning the £5 charge remained.

At the March 7 meeting of full council, Cllr Murphy asked a question following the introduction of the charge to dispose of the festive flora.

He asked: “Could council be now provided with the number of Christmas Trees collected in December 2023 and January 2024 following the introduction of the £5 collection fee?”

Answering Cllr Murphy’s question, Cabinet Member for Residents’ Services Cllr Rhys Sinnett said 870 households had used the service since the introduction of charges, with 910 trees collected.

Cllr Murphy, in a supplementary question, said there had been a 50 per cent reduction in the numbers collected in previous years since the charge was introduced.

He added: “I think to find £10,000 to continue the service which affects the less well-off would be the positive thing to do.”

Cllr Sinnett replied, saying that, although there had been a reduction in the tonnage of Christmas trees collected through the scheme, from 16.4 to 7.1 tons, free disposal had been available at the county’s waste and recycling centres, with the tonnage of ‘green waste,’ including the trees, had increased by 13.8 per cent in late 2023.

“What we lose in one, we gain in another,” he concluded.