TRADERS have stepped in to ensure that Wotton is decked for Christmas after insurance complications threatened festive plans.

For the past nine years, Wotton Chamber of Trade has taken on the task of installing Christmas trees in the main streets of the town.

But this year, due to insurance complications, it will not be doing so.

The chamber found it didn’t have the right insurance for putting up the trees, and that chamber president Martin Tucker would be held personally liable if anything went wrong.

Mr Tucker said: “Plus there’s lots of health and safety regulations involved, and we couldn’t meet the criteria.

“We would have been working off high ladders, five metres off the ground in some places.

“It was a difficult decision, but in the end I decided that I wasn’t prepared to put people at risk, or be sued myself, when doing something voluntarily for the town.”

But now, in the absence of a chamber-led initiative, traders are taking the decorations into their own hands.

Cllr Rich Hale said: “A number of traders have erected trees independently. I think this is brilliant and displays the initiative and creativity of our townsfolk.”

Wotton in Bloom chair Sue Hunt says a break with a uniform style of trees and lighting across the town has led to a burst of creativity.

“I think it is a plus,” she said.

“Traders are doing their own thing this year and they’re doing a great job.

“It has allowed for much more individuality. In previous years we’ve used lots of same coloured lights across the town.

“This year it’s lovely people can use their imaginations a bit more.”

Cllr Derek Thomas, who runs clothing and footwear shop W H Thomas and Son, on Long Street, was the first trader to install his own tree outside his business.

He said: “It has been decided by the chamber for businesses to organise their own tree and installation.

“I just happened to install the first one, but others have followed since. Hopefully we will have a good response.”

Sue Bailey, Wotton town clerk said: “We have suggested a meeting early in 2019 to avoid a repeat of this for next Christmas.”

It has also been suggested that an informal group should get together and look at options for 2019.

“It would be good to harness this special ability of Wotton to pull together and utilise all of the many talents of those in our town,” added Cllr Hale.