A GRINCH has repeatedly pulled the plug on Christmas spirit in part of the Capital – right under the noses of a nearby station of police officers.
Residents have enjoyed an illuminated Christmas tree outside Drylaw police station on Ferry Road for the past 14 years. But this year the Norway Spruce has been left in darkness, as every time council workmen plug the lights in someone arrives in the dead of night and turns them off again.
Retired civil servant, Karl Johansen, 63, who lives opposite the tree, made repeated calls to the council to request the lights be turned on in the belief the plug had been pulled by penny-pinching council chiefs.
However, further investigation by the News has revealed that the lights have in fact been turned on three times since November 28 – only for the Grinch to strike and darken the Christmas mood.
Numerous broken branches have also been found, a clear sign that someone has attempted to climb the tree.
It is understood that regular inspections are now to be carried out by council workmen in the hope of dissuading the mean-spirited vandal, and the police have also been alerted to his less-than-jolly antics.
Mr Johansen said: “For many years the residents have enjoyed the Christmas tree opposite the police station. This year the tree was installed on November 1 but now over a month and half later it still stands in darkness.
“One of my neighbours did say something about seeing the lights being on at one point. I thought it might have something to do with the cost and that the council pulled the plug. It’s something else to think somebody has been turning the lights off each time.
“When lit the tree helps to bring a bit of festive cheer to the area so hopefully it will stay lit from here on in. It’s rather depressing looking at an unlit Christmas tree.”
Council chiefs are also considering installing a more robust coupling to ensure that the plug can’t be pulled so easily in future.
West Pilton and West Granton Community Council chair Frances Durie said: “We had a problem a few years back where we had to put the lights up at the top of the tree as the ones at the bottom kept getting vandalised. It’s not very Christmas spirited is it?
“You’d think the police would be a bit more vigilant given it’s happening right outside the station. Hopefully the council can put a cage or something around the switch; a cage around whoever is doing it would be even better though.”
Councillor Cammy Day, the city’s community safety leader, also echoed this view and said: “It is extremely disappointing that the Christmas tree on Ferry Road continues to be vandalised. This mindless act not only wastes our time and taxpayers’ money, but more importantly spoils the enjoyment of the tree for residents.”
This isn’t the first time that the Grinch has struck in the Capital. Back in 2005 Christmas presents left within several parked cars were swiped.
Dad-of-three William O’Donnell, was forced to tell his children that “Santa would be coming later” after thieves stole their presents from his car on Christmas Eve.
The incident was one of a string of similar thefts in Whitburn, West Lothian, where thieves made off with Christmas gifts from parked cars.
Rooted in royalty
CHRISTMAS trees have been around since ancient times.
Protestant reformer Martin Luther is popularly believed to be responsible for lighting the first Christmas tree – inspired by the light of stars shining through the branches of firs.
From Germany the tradition eventually spread throughout Europe and the Royal family introduced the Christmas tree to England when Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, had the first tree in 1800.
However, Prince Albert and Queen Victoria were responsible for popularising the idea when they posed with their children by a tree decorated with candles, sweets, fruits, and gingerbread in 1848.