Residents stumped as landmark tree is chopped down in an ‘act of wickedness’

Felled tree
Felled tree
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A COMMUNITY councillor has branded the removal of a tree near her home in Newtown St Boswells as an act of wickedness.

And Jane Smart is angry that Scottish Borders Council failed to consult with local residents before its SB Local team chopped down the tree, on the pavement at Sprouston Road, last Wednesday.

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A member of Newtown and Eildon Community Council, Ms Smart, whose Langlands Place flat overlooked the landmark, said her concerns had been raised about two months ago when she saw two SBC workers inspecting the tree which she believed was a flowering cherry.

“The tree has been a longstanding and cherished feature round here and the light pink blossom was an enduring symbol of spring,” she told us.

“I asked one of the men what was happening and he said the tree would have to come down as it was dangerous.

“I conceded that one of the horizontal limbs was split and that perhaps a few other branches could be removed, but there was clear evidence of new growth below them and with careful pruning it could continue to flourish.

“The employee seemed to know his stuff and talked about the possibility of the tree being pollarded, whereby the top and branches are cut off to encourage new growth, and he agreed to go back to his superiors to suggest that option.

“I also asked him to make the point that cutting down any village landmark – and this tree has been with us longer than SBC itself – should not happen without proper local consultation.”

Ms Smart said she reported this conversation to her community council which was unaware of the tree’s impending demise.

She told us: “Our council was pleased, I think, that SBC was rethinking its position, given that we were not consulted when the Scottish Borders Housing Association removed trees further up Sprouston Road earlier this year.”

But she said the community council had heard nothing by the time the tree was chopped down on August 3. Asked for an explanation on the decision and lack of consultation, an SBC spokesperson told TheSouthern: “The main stem of the tree was badly damaged and, in the interests of public safety, we decided to remove it. Quick action was needed to address the immediate danger to public.”

Watching its destruction was another Langlands Place resident Alan Sutherland who told us: “An old warrior has been cut down in the twilight of his years.

“During his time with us, he had grown tall and strong, spreading out his limbs to seek the nourishment of sun and rain, becoming our friend and a place of rest of many feathered friends.

“He stood for many years and withstood anything that nature could throw at him. He also gave life to people who walked past by producing life-giving oxygen.

“He asked for nothing and, though bent with age and showing signs of a hard life, each year he sprang into life.

“Then one day, along came some workmen with instructions to unceremoniously cut him down as he had outlived his usefulness and become a danger to the people he gave so much pleasure to, or so they believed.

“Now, sadly, he has gone from us, his limbs surgically removed ... a mere example of what is happening all over the world.”

Ms Smart waxed less lyrical: “In my view, this is an act of wickedness perpetrated on a community which had no say. Everyone I have spoken to is appalled by this action.”