Misunderstanding led to cutting down of beloved walnut trees
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
The cutting down of walnut trees, which led to widespread condemnation in a Suffolk town, was the result of a misunderstanding.
Mid Suffolk District Council (MSDC) has confirmed that walnut trees planted by the late headmaster of Stowmarket Middle School, Mike Arbon, on Walnut Tree Walk in the town should not have been cut down.
Three trees were cut down with another two cut back as a result of a misunderstanding between Suffolk County Council (SCC) and MSDC.
Highways teams from SCC were called to the road last October to look at an overgrown buddleia which it recommended be cut.
However, the letter sent to the MSDC did not specify which vegetation was to be cut back.
When SCC returned to the site in December the buddleia had been cut, though not by MSDC.
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This was not communicated to MSDC. Instead, their team arrived in January and with no buddleia overhanging, thought the job referred to the trees which they cut instead.
MSDC said that it would be replacing the walnut trees during the redevelopment of the middle school site.
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Sharri McGarry, from Stowmarket Eco Futures welcomed that more trees would be planted, but had concerns about the actions taken.
"This is also about communication with local people about when trees will be felled and why – trees have a community value, and their destruction causes community grief," said Ms McGarry.
Jessica Fleming, Mid Suffolk District Council's cabinet member for environment and waste, said: “Following an investigation into the circumstances surrounding this issue, I can see that between Suffolk County Council and Mid Suffolk District Council some misunderstanding clearly took place which, very regrettably, led to two trees being cut back and three cut down along Walnut Tree Walk.
"Extra procedures have now been put in place to prevent anything similar from happening again."
Andrew Stringer from the Green and Liberal Group at Mid Suffolk District Council said the loss of the trees felt like a "betrayal".
“We have in the past worked with the Conservatives to bring forward initiatives like the Tree for Life Programme that supplies fruit trees to mark the arrival of new-born children," said Mr Stringer.