Woman halts council from axing tree down

Tree Protest'Eileen Heaton stops the council from cutting down a tree on the Wreyfield Drive roundabout.'Picture by Neil Silk  sn122336a'06/06/12
Tree Protest'Eileen Heaton stops the council from cutting down a tree on the Wreyfield Drive roundabout.'Picture by Neil Silk sn122336a'06/06/12

A Barrowcliff tree has been given a stave of execution after a one-woman protest stopped Scarborough Council from hacking it down.

Council operatives turned up to the Wreyfield Drive roundabout early this morning to saw down the cherry tree, despite previous assurances that the tree would remain until at least the end of the year.

Several other trees were felled by the workmen. However, determined local resident Eileen Heaton put her body in the way of the blades, until a chance encounter with Cllr Bill Chatt meant workers dropped tools for the day.

The move has left one ward councillor “irate”, and Eileen, from Gildercliffe, said: “There’s nothing wrong with the tree at all.

“They just want them to go down so they can put three more up, but these are healthy trees.

“They’re only 40-years-old - I mean, they’ve only just blossoming.”

Green activist Eileen has campaigned to save several Scarborough trees, including the infamous Irton tree.

She clung onto the tree for most of the morning, until Cllr Chatt drove past.

Cllr Chatt praised the determination of Eileen, but added that it was time for the tree to go.

“I’ve lived around here all my life, and I remember seeing that tree when I was going to school.

“But these trees are about 40 years old, and they’ve reached the end of their lives.

Cllr Chatt added that the trees are set to be cut down so that more can be planted in their place as part of the remodelling of the roundabout.

He also said that North Yorkshire County Council, who the trees belong too, had put in place the “proper notices” in place.

He added that the council were in their rights to take the trees down, although a verbal agreement was believed to have been in place for them to stay.

It had been thought that the trees would be kept up until next year, when a meeting would have been held over their future.

A petition had been signed by dozens of local residents wishing to keep the trees, and fellow Woodlands councillor Cllr Steve Bairstow said: “Who has given the go ahead for this to come down?

“If it’s (Phil) Yardley (Tree Officer for Scarborough Borough Council), I would love to know where he was for the Irton tree.”

However, Cllr Chatt said: “As much as people obviously care about a great deal about these trees, there really is so much more we can do with that roundabout.

“Besides, the last thing we need is another situation like the Irton tree.”

A North Yorkshire County Council statement read: “The work is being carried out by Scarborough Borough Council on behalf of Groundwork as part of an environmental scheme.

“However the trees are owned by North Yorkshire County Council, as is the roundabout.

“There has been a public consultation.

“Scarborough Council have suspended the work for the moment and are looking at options.”