Big screen cash 'should be spent on tree planting'
Money saved by dismantling the big screen in the city centre should go on tree planting, environmentalists have suggested.
Leicester City Council spends £105,000 a year maintaining and operating the giant screen in Humberstone Gate.
The £500,000 television was donated to the city by Olympic organisers in 2009, to show major sporting and civic events, but to chiefly cover this summer's London Games.
Now, city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby is deciding on whether to keep it in place, relocate it or dismantle it entirely.
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Herbert Eppel, of Leicester Friends of the Earth, said, were it to be taken down, the cash could be better spent on tree planting about the city.
Mr Eppel said: "We know there is a moratorium on replacing trees by the roads in the city because of the council's difficult financial position.
"It does cost a lot to run that screen and it is something that has divided public opinion.
"I have no real strong feelings about it, but the money it takes up could be spent on trees. It was a light-hearted suggestion but I hope the mayor would consider it.
"I know there are a lot of things the council could spend that money on, but I think it is a shame planting is on hold.
"Trees do make the city landscape much more pleasant."
Sir Peter said he hoped to make a decision on the future of the 10-metre-high screen before Christmas.
He said: "Were we to get rid of the big screen, there are a lot of things on the council's shopping list – that includes trees.
"It does cost us quite a lot of money, but in the larger scheme, not a lot.
"As the famous advertising slogan goes, 'every little helps' and we do need decide if we keep the screen."
Leicester Civic Society chairman Stuart Bailey said: "They ought to take the screen down and put it on a rubbish tip.
"Leicester is a city of lovely, tree-lined streets and this moratorium on planting could ruin that.
"Using the money spent on the screen to plant more trees would be a great idea."
Humberstone resident David Croft, 57, said: "I hate the screen. It has served its purpose and now it just drones on.
"There are also more urgent things, such as paying teachers or care assistants for the elderly."