Town council criticised for £4,000 Christmas marmot

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Neil Connery

A local council has been criticised for unveiling an "Alpine Marmot" in place of Christmas tree.

Alton, in Hampshire, some 700 miles from The Alps, revealed the character on Tuesday. It reportedly cost £4,200.

Town Hall staff have nicknamed the 16ft character Marmite - perhaps appropriate for the way it has split opinion in the town.

Alton Town Council posted a picture of the marmot on its Facebook page, attracting comments from people angered at its "pathetic" purchase.

One Facebook commentator wrote: "Don't remember a Marmot being in the Christmas story."

Another added: "I’m sorry but this looks awful and cheap and tacky and does not suit this town and looks out of place, it looks like something that should be in a shopping centre with other plastic tat."

The 16ft Alpine Marmot is already in place. Credit: Alton Town Council

But not all were so disappointed; "I love it!! Shame that you can't please everyone," wrote one woman.

A second added: "Least people are talking about Alton and about the Marmot! Surely the news coverage will bring people into the town to look at it and then shop here too over Christmas?! Can't see that as a bad thing!"

A council spokesperson reportedly said: "It was really about choosing something that would attract people to the high street and bring a smile to ­people’s faces, particularly the children."