The tree that normally costs £500 has been replaced by a £13,000 fake amid fears it would fall over in strong winds.
The new 10m (33ft) tall variety has no branches and decorations, is sturdier and doesn’t have to be cordoned off to keep people away, authorities claim.
But residents say it looks more like a gigantic traffic cone, a witch’s hat, an ice-cream cornet or even something out of Doctor Who.
And they questioned the cost during a recession, especially after officials scaled back the town’s Christmas lights.
‘I think it looks like something that has just landed from out of space. It looks nothing like a Christmas tree,’ said shopper Michelle James.
The tree is the brainchild of Poole’s town centre management board, an organisation made up of businesses and the council.
Although a real tree is about £500, it costs another £3,500 for specialists to decorate, light and install, officials said.
Richard Randall-Jones, the town centre manager, defended the new fake tree. ‘People think you can just go into the woods, chop down a tree and put it up in the high street. But if it blows over and kills someone then somebody is liable for it,’ he said.