Locals fume after council spends £20,000 on 'Christmas rodent'

A council has sparked confusion by creating a 16ft ski-ing marmot, nicknamed "Marmite", as the centre of its Christmas lights display.

Alton Town Council has spent 20,000 on the display, which has the giant Alpine rodent as its centrepiece. Picture: PA

Alton Town Council has spent £20,000 on the display, which has the giant Alpine rodent as its centrepiece.

But some residents of the Hampshire town have questioned the choice, which follows last year's display featuring a Santa hat, querying its links with the Christmas story.

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Emma English wrote on the council's Facebook page: "I just don't understand! Whatever it is, it has no relevance to Christmas, it's embarrassing and just plain ugly. I struggled to like the

Christmas hat we had last year but this is another low."

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Carole Samuda added: "I could understand it if we had some connection to ski-ing but it seems a bit of an odd thing for Alton to have."

But others were more supportive, with Caroline Wren saying: "I think it's fantastic, the children of Alton will love this and Christmas is for them after all."

And Sara Cantello added: "I think Marmite is a great name for it because people will either love it or hate it, I think it's great."

A council spokeswoman said the design was chosen "to bring a smile to people's faces, particularly the children".

She added: "We realised that people were really keen to take selfies with it and it was definitely a talking point.

"Marmite this year is most certainly a talking point and has had over 25,000 views on our Facebook page alone."

The spokeswoman said the marmot was chosen over alternative designs of giant baubles or a polar bear.

She explained: "The marmot was felt to be the most unusual, quirky, and was the best value."