THE £250,000 cost of county council legal fees over a beech tree in Irton is higher than the price of some homes in the village
The 55ft (17 metre) tree is set to be chopped down, after a judge resolved the six-year debate by branding it a “public nuisance” and ordering that the specimen is felled.
Matthew Sinclair, director of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said yesterday: “While everyone knows that it is easy for passions to run high in disputes between neighbours, there must have been a way of resolving this without it costing that much.
“People will pay council tax their whole lives just to cover the cost of settling the matter. Being more decisive surely could have saved some of that money.”
Neighbours who live close to the tree had brought legal proceedings asking for the tree to be cut down as its roots are damaging property.
The £250,000 figure was revealed at a meeting of the Yorkshire Coast and Moors county area committee.
Committee member Cllr Godfrey Allanson said yesterday: “I am shocked that it has cost as much as that. When legal people get involved they start talking telephone numbers.
“It is a shame it had to get to this, especially as the majority of people were in favour of keeping the tree.
“I place as much blame on the owners of the property in pressing ahead and costing the taxpayer this type of money. It would have been wrong for the county council to have given in because it would cost money.”
Cllr Colin Challen, who also sits on the committee, branded the £250,000 fee a “waste of money”.
He added: “On top of the money spent by the county council on legal fees, we will face another bill for the borough council’s costs.
“This all should have been resolved much earlier. Now we will not only lose a beautiful tree but also a small fortune which could have been better spent keeping libraries open.”
The fate of the tree is expected to be sealed at a meeting of Scarborough Council’s planning and development committee on Thursday.
Officers have recommended that despite a tree preservation order being in place since 2007, the borough council’s permission is not required to cut down the tree.
The local authority has previously resisted moves to cut down the tree.
It is expected that it will be cut down before the end of the month.