A CHRISTMAS tree put up for a special village celebration on the edge of the New Forest has been wrecked by vandals.

The tree and decorations cost the Blackfield and Langley Traders Association £75 and were the centre piece of its Christmas fayre and party at the weekend.

But when traders arrived to open their businesses yesterday morning, it was in tatters and a lot of its decorations had been stolen.

"It is disgraceful. This was a Christmas fun event for the community and the children turned up and saw Santa at his grotto and were enthralled with him - but what incentive is there for anyone to run something like that when this happens?" said traders' chairman Alexis McEvoy.

She added that the tree, put up near the Ron the Barber Shop in Hampton Lane, had even been chained to a pole because of fears that it might be stolen and reflected: "The people who have done this are just mindless yobs. If there was any discipline or respect for other people's property, this wouldn't have happened.

"Everything was donated by the traders and the event was also held to raise money for the Honeypot House and Reece Trust charities."

It was not the first time an event run by the traders had been hit by vandals. Flags put at the top of lamp posts for the Queen's Golden Jubilee in the summer were stolen and other damage has been done to village property.

It has sparked new calls for closed circuit television cameras. Mrs McEvoy said: "We've been pressing for CCTV and it just might have caught whoever was responsible for this."