IT’S official – Santa is a man. At least in Newton Aycliffe he will be for the foreseeable future.

Just weeks after Great Aycliffe Town Council attracted national attention over fears health and safety rules and insurance complications would mean changes to the Santa Tours tradition, the authority has been back in the spotlight for feeling it is necessary to make a ruling on whether a man in a red suit and beard must be... a man in a red suit and beard.

How far the story has gone shows exactly how desperate the nation is for some relief from Brexit.

Councillors decided that to protect the sense of “wonder and joy” felt by children at Christmas, the tradition of a male Santa Claus must continue.

But would the magic of the festive season be destroyed by a female Santa?

Would the story of the nativity lose its meaning? Would the enjoyment of giving and receiving gifts fade away? Would the advent calendars and chocolate pennies be cast aside?

Or if children questioned why Santa was a woman, would it be easy enough to explain that it’s because it’s 2018 and women can do or be anything they choose to?

It’s not political correctness to put equality of opportunity at the heart of decision-making – it’s a sign of progress. Traditions have to move with the times.

If a female can play the role of Dr Who and be accepted on TV screens by the nation’s children, it’s hardly a stretch to think that Santa could be a woman as well.