VANDALS trashed Thornbury’s Christmas tree causing up to £1,000 worth of damage and leaving volunteers to foot the bill.
On Saturday, the town woke to find the tree wrecked and the control box to its electric lights battered, with plugs and live wires exposed.
Due to the damage to the transformers, the "dangerous" tree part of the Christmas Lights Association’s festive display in the High Street was taken away nearly two weeks early for safety reasons.
Fixing the control box is expected to cost between £500 and £1,000 - a sum the charity’s volunteers will be hard-pressed to come up with as they rely entirely on grants and the money collected at fundraising events.
Christmas Lights Association vice-chairman Rex Davis told the Gazette: "The tree was basically twisted around and the box with all the controls to the lighting and transformers at the bottom of the tree was damaged. "It exposed the plugs and wiring and it was too dangerous so we removed it. Normally it would have come down either this weekend or next weekend. We are very sorry that we had to remove it but we removed it on safety grounds."
This was the second attack on the tree. Days after the Christmas Lights switch-on, which attracted hundreds of revellers to Thornbury, the top of the tree was snapped off.
Dozens of volunteers had been planning the display since October, arranging the illuminations and labouring for weeks to make the town as attractive as possible for the holidays.
"It’s only volunteers who do it," Mr Davis added. "We started setting it up in October. We are hoping they got caught on CCTV camera. It’s going to cost between £500 and £1,000. We’ve got to test all the equipment to see what’s gone."
Mary Sealey, of Thornbury Town Hall, said: "It’s a great shame. Nothing like that has ever happened before. The electric box there was interfered with and it was deemed unsafe to leave it."
Police were alerted and officers are seeking the public’s help to catch the vandals.
A spokesman said: "An investigation has begun to identify the offenders. We would appeal to anyone with information to come forward."
Anyone with information should contact police on 101 and quote crime reference number 139485/12.