A WINTER frost effect Christmas tree which cost a council £10,000 was dismantled immediately after the big switch on over fears someone could be electrocuted.

The impressive electric blue light tree was to be the centre of the yuletide celebrations on Front Street in Stanley, County Durham, but had to be taken down straight after the launch event on Saturday evening.

Safety concerns about the wiring of the electric tree were raised by Durham County Council, which said it did not comply with regulations.

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The fear was that if anyone got near to the tree and interfered with the electrics they could receive a high voltage electric shock, which could kill them.

Durham County Councillor Carl Marshall, who helped organise the festival, said: “If anyone was to open up a junction box or was messing about with it there was good risk that they would not just get a little shock. It would be a fatality.

“I am disappointed because it was a great spectacle for the Front Street. It is a total joke.”

The tree was set up and surrounded by safety barriers and security guards to make sure no-one could get close to it, then dismantled while the wiring is re-examined. The tree cost over £10,000 and was paid for by Stanley Town Council and put up Stanley Events, which organised the festival.

It was part of a £15,000 programme of activities paid for the council and delivered by the non-profit organisation.

Coun Marshall said the town council asked for it to be included in the switch on, which featured Emmerdale actor Ross Adams, and will be invoiced for the cost of assembling and dismantling the tree, which is believed to be about £2,000.

Councillor Peter McLaughlin, chairman of Stanley Town Council, said the tree would be back on display once it was made safe.

Coun McLaughlin said “We have been in touch with the manufacturer and they are going to change what has to be done. The idea of putting it up was so all of the public could see it.”

Stanley still has a real Christmas tree, which is provided by Durham County Council, every year.

John Reed, head of technical services at Durham County Council, said: “The tree purchased by Stanley Town Council was not safe for use in an unsupervised outdoor public display.

“Safety requirements specify a maximum voltage for such electrical equipment of 24 volts.

“In this case the tree had electrics which ran at 240 volts – 10 times the safe level.

“The tree, which was part of a wider festive lighting display, was therefore fenced off and supervised during the switch-on event and taken down following the event on Saturday, at the request of the town council.”