Councillors should hang heads in shame

SCARBOROUGH through the song ‘Scarborough Fair’ is still associated with performing impossible tasks, thanks particularly to local balladeer Martin Carthy and his influence on a couple of his American friends. Minstrels throughout the world still sing nightly of us making shirts without seams and those acres of land we have here twixt the salt water and the sea sand.

South Scarborough village Irton’s residents were asked to continue that tradition when they discovered their fine village centre beech tree could be saved. They had an hour to write a letter that needed to arrive “yesterday” and so required posting the day before that.

The Irton tree residents Snoz, Ledge, Ganty, Rob and Beechnut had already been compared to a transmogrifying famous time traveller and the seafront does have one of the few surviving Tardis; but although residents had solutions other than felling for the High Court to consider, on Wednesday September 29 they could not travel back in time to Monday 27 to answer an injunction posted on the tree on Tuesday 28.

Villagers made post-felling arrangements with the county even before Snoz, the first protester, arrived. The tree was to be chocked safely on a verge whilst a design for a bench or other memorial of ’The 100 years it Stood Tall’ was decided. I understand that after an exchange of views between the council and one villager, inappropriate on such an emotive day, the tree, contrary to the majority of villagers’ wishes, left the village and was last seen going West.

The decision by Judge Ibbotson to overrule a Tree Preservation Order by declaring a tree a (legal) nuisance, because two financially interested parties agree it is, has probably set a legal precedent that will need challenge if it is not to cause problems for thousands of trees, But the County Council’s treatment of the ‘good natured folk of Irton’ (a 19th century description of those villagers growing Lady Edith’s roses, but still true today) has set another precedent - on how not to treat a community. The invisible county councillors of the Scarborough area should hang their heads in shame.

Mick Haigh