Video: Scarborough residents campaign to save trees on Westbourne Park from being felled
Residents in Scarborough are campaigning to stop trees on Westbourne Park from being felled.
Plans to improve a long-neglected footpath are due to begin in August. However, preparatory work on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council has already begun.
Much to the dismay of local residents, this involves cutting down some of the street's iconic trees.
"On Wednesday morning around 8.30 tree surgeons came down with chainsaws," said Westbourne Park resident Ray Springall.
"We had no idea what was going on. They cut down one tree and then left. In the afternoon, labels appeared on trees to say that they were due to be demolished. Prior to that there were no labels at all.
"We're fed up with this because by stealth we're going to end up losing all the trees in the street. This is one of the last tree-lined crescents in Scarborough, it's a sad thing and everyone knows the benefits that trees have on our town, wildlife and the environment."
Fuelling feelings of anger and frustration is the complete lack of consultation from local authorities which created a situation "that could have been avoided".
Ray added: "As residents I think that we ought to be informed and ought to have a say. Look at Sheffield where there were people protesting in the street and climbing on top of trees.
"We don't want to do that and we shouldn't have to be up in arms over this.
"If someone had said to us 'we're going to redo the footpath and we're going to have to be felling some trees' we could have discussed this with them.
"At the end of the day the footpath is a mess and needs improving, we don't want to put them off doing that but it's all down to communication and co-operation."
After one tree came down, three more are marked for felling and residents are demanding assurances that they will be replanted.
County councillor Liz Colling who lives on Westbourne Park said: "I was aware of the works to improve the footpath and I was aware of the removal of some of the trees.
"Notices on trees should have been placed six weeks beforehand but due to an error, they weren't put up until later on."
The Scarborough News understands that it was up to Scarborough Borough Council, who is carrying out the tree removal on behalf of the county council, to place notices.
Councillor Colling added: "The tree that came down on Wednesday was a diseased rowan tree outside number 1. There is an unhealthy hawthorn outside number 13 which is marked for felling and two whitebeams outside number 27 and 48.
"Although these two look completely healthy they are nearing the end of their natural lifespan and if we lay a new pathway without felling them we'll have to dig it up in a few years time when they fail."
According to residents, though, who recognise that the first tree that came down was in fact diseased, the other ones are less than 40 years old and only require pruning.
Councillor Colling also admitted that North Yorkshire County Council does not routinely replace street trees.
However, she said, this is "an opportunity to change their policy in its entirety".
"I have made it my mission to do this," she added, "and I was told last night that the county council is now considering replanting some of them.
"An engineer officer from the county council and a tree officer from Scarborough Borough Council will be visiting the site to discuss this."