Council praised for decision to replace Newtown tree

WHEN Scottish Borders Council workmen chopped down a flowering cherry tree from a pavement in Sprouston Road in Newtown St Boswells last month, it was described as “an act of wickedness” by local community councillor Jane Smart, writes Andrew Keddie.

She and neighbour Alan Sutherland, whose flats in Langlands Road overlooked the landmark, bemoaned the action, claiming residents should have been consulted.

Ms Smart expressed shock, revealing that council staff had earlier informed her the tree was only due to be pruned.

A council spokesman defended the destruction in TheSouthern, stating the main stem of the tree had been badly damaged and the decision to remove it had been taken in the interests of public safety.

“Quick action was needed to address the immediate danger to the public,” he added.

Mr Sutherland, however, was far from satisfied and earlier this month lodged an official complaint with SBC’s chief executive – a role currently being fulfilled on an interim basis by education director Glenn Rodger – calling for the tree to be replaced.

And his last-ditch intervention has paid off with the council agreeing to plant a new tree at the same location by the end of this year.

The good news was conveyed this week in an email to Mr Sutherland from Rob Dickson, SBC’s director of environment and infrastructure.

Mr Dickson wrote: “I am pleased to be able to confirm that a replacement flowering cherry tree [Prunus Pandora] is scheduled to be replanted at the same location from where the original tree was removed.

“You will be aware that the tree was located in the footway so there are certain engineering constraints which need to be satisfied before the replanting can take place ... it is expected the tree will therefore be planted before the end of the calendar year.”

Mr Sutherland told us: “Having criticised the council, I feel I must now praise it for this kind act.

“I know I speak for Mrs Smart and the wider Newtown community in saying a resounding ‘well done’ to Mr Dickson and his council.”