Squatters are preventing a Christmas tree from being removed from a Northumberland leisure centre.
The tree had been put up outside Concordia in Cramlington in December to bring some festive cheer to the town centre.
But as Cramlington Town Council went to remove the tree they discovered nesting blackbirds had moved in and had laid eggs.
As a result, and following discussions with the RSPB, the tree is now protected and will not be removed until the eggs have hatched and the birds moved on.
Councillors have defended the situation as some residents have questioned why a Christmas tree is still standing.
Coun Barry Flux said: “This year was the first time that the Christmas tree had been put outside Concordia and I think that the light switch-on event was popular and well received.
“Clearly a Christmas tree would generally only be desired during the Christmas period, however, I feel that consideration to the nesting blackbirds is fine for the time being.
“We should be promoting Cramlington as a green community and a haven for wildlife.”