KNUTSFORD Town Council is to offer some much-needed festive cheer by providing dozens of Christmas trees free of charge to shops.

Since 2015 the council has organised the provision of shop Christmas trees.

Participating shops have a bracket installed on the front of their shop into which a four-foot real tree is installed and LED lighting connected.

This service is self-financing, with participating businesses covering the cost of the tree and installation, and new participants funding the cost of a new bracket/lights as required.

However due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic orders for the trees this year are down from the usual figure of 50 to 60 to only 26.

The council’s Events and Town Centre Management Committee agreed on Monday to spend £2,500 to provide trees and lights free of charge to shops which took part in the scheme last year.

This year’s scheme is set to take in shops in Parkgate, Longridge and Mansion Drive.

Cllr Andrew Malloy had discussed with the town centre and marketing officer the idea of the council funding the trees for 2020 and distributing them evenly across the town centre.

Cllr Malloy told the committee: “Businesses are obviously finding things difficult at the moment, and the Christmas trees bring a smile to everyone’s faces and help the town continue to be bright and attractive.

“We are a place people come to for a classic Georgian-Victorian Christmas.

“There are lots of events we have not been able to hold, so we have not spent our budget.

“This is the kind of thing we can give back to residents and brighten up the town in what is quite a dull time at the moment.”

Cllr Peter Coan said: “Shopkeepers are struggling, we need to maintain the town centre’s viability and need to bring in a little bit of Christmas cheer.”

He proposed the council foot the bill for all the trees as a one-off for this year, stressing the importance of brightening up the town centre as much as possible.