North Tawton Town Council will not provide any trees for shop walls this year following an incident last Christmas in which a tree fell from the bracket and barely missed a member of the public.

The town council has traditionally provided businesses along High Street and The Square with trees which they can fit into brackets on the walls of their premises.

However, following the incident last year, the council has reviewed the situation and said that it now requires the permission of property owners to accept liability if any tree falls or causes any damage.

North Tawton Town Council said: “The council must ensure that the property owners have given their continued consent and are aware of and accept the liability for damage or injury caused by the tree whilst it is installed on their property.

“This is not a new clause but appears to have been overlooked historically.

"Only three properties gave their consent going forward, therefore, the council determined no to proceed with the supply of Christmas trees this year and have instead tried to promote Christmas display competitions.

“The council had already budgeted for Christmas trees this year, so this was not a financial decision and purely based on the lack of consent of the majority of private/business property owners who have previously been provided with a Christmas tree.

“The insurance position is that the council, as a public authority, cannot provide insurance cover for a private property.This is the only reason that trees have not been installed along High Street and The Square this year.”

Residents and businesses have been disappointed as the trees above shop premises are a popular and well-loved Christmas tradition.

There has also been uncertainty over whether the council would be erecting a large Christmas tree in the town centre this year.

The council added: "The large Christmas tree for The Square was ordered, however, the contracted supplier informed the council on November 30 that they cannot provide us a tree this year due to vehicle issues, despite assurances and confirmation as of November 27 that a tree would be installed by December 1.”

Luckily, the council was able to source another tree which was put up at the end of last week by a team of volunteers, who have been thanked by the council.

Okehampton and Tavistock businesses also erect Christmas trees on the walls of their premises and have done so this year as usual.