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Anger as council axes trees in city centre gardens

An environmentalist is waging war against the city council for chopping down dozens of trees in the picturesque Westgate Gardens. Paul Fryday says his heart sank when he saw tree surgeons brandishing chainsaws in the city centre park this week. The council insists the trees are in a poor condition and their felling is part of a wider project to improve the gardens. But Mr Fryday, 50, thinks many of the trees are healthy and has criticised the authority for a lack of information about the scheme. He says:

“I thought they were only cutting down one or two, but they keep returning and cutting down even more. They say they’re diseased but I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with a lot of them. The gardens are beautiful, but it seems the council is trying to corporatise them. They want straight lawns and flower beds, they don’t want nature.”

Mr Fryday has since plastered posters over some of the remaining trees to warn others about their imminent removal. He adds:

“A lot of people have said they didn’t know anything about it. The plans aren’t clear enough. People are quite disgusted at what is happening.”

The council says a tree management programme was agreed last autumn as part of the £1 million Westgate Parks lottery project. Trees facing the chop include a poplar with “oozing patches”, a leaning willow tree, a decaying sycamore and a group of four dead and deformed cherry trees. Spokesman Rob Davies said:

“Many of the trees are in poor condition or preventing others from flourishing. Overall there will be more trees at the end of the project, including a new community orchard. The whole project has been carefully and sensitively thought out with a view to the long term benefit of the area.”

Environment portfolio holder Cllr Rosemary Doyle added:

“As part of the scheme to improve the Westgate Gardens some trees are having to be removed, but they are old, or in the wrong place. Once new trees have been planted the gardens will look wonderful again, and I look forward to seeing people enjoy the new landscape.”

For more information visit www.westgateparks.co.uk/westgate-parks-tree-management.

Herne Bay Gazette, April 10th 2014

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