POLICE were called after a council controversially felled two more protected trees in a town centre beauty spot.
Disgusted residents have hit out at Christchurch council after the authority gave the go-ahead for two more trees, protected by preservation orders, to be cut down.
The move has sparked outrage from councillors and residents, with campaigners branding the felling as “an assault on nature.”
Yesterday the chairman of the council’s audit and scrutiny committee promised an investigation into the situation.
Many residents flocked to Druitt Gardens on Friday, with relations becoming heated and one bystander reporting one person with their hand round the throat of another.
Four of the seven trees placed under protection just four weeks ago have been felled.
TPOs were placed on the trees after a campaign by residents to protect them from felling by Cornfactor developer Renaissance Retirement Ltd.
But on Tuesday, roots were severed during an archaeological dig with the council’s tree officer giving the order to fell the trees for “public safety”.
Elliot Marx, a retired Christchurch resident who campaigned against the felling, said: “450 people wrote to the council opposing the felling of these trees.
“We opposed the felling because they are an important wildlife habitat. This is an assault on nature.”
Alec Trebilcock, 45, a truck driver, added: “If I ignored a tree preservation order and cut down a tree in my garden then the council would have me.”
Sue Newman, a Christchurch historian, said: “They seem to be doing everything they can to spoil Christchurch. This was an eco-system where the trees were integral.”
Bryan Wellstead, who is retired and has lived in the area for 75 years, said: “The council appear to be doing everything they can to spoil this town.”
Grace Tierney-Baker, 22, a support worker, said: “There will be no nature left in Christchurch at the rate things are going. If I had known about this earlier I would have protested. These people don't care. It is all about the money to them.”
Simon Gibb, 26, a care worker, said: “It seems to be all about the money now. Cutting down the trees seems a bit wrong but I don't think there is anything we can do now.”
Norman Cutler, 74, of Somerford, said: “I am very annoyed. They have wrecked this place as it is already.”
Mike Tizzard, 64, a kitchen fitter and amateur archaeologist, said: “They don't care about what anybody thinks. We have had other sites where archaeology has been trashed because of the council.”
Jo Crane, 61, a retired engineer, said: “It stinks. The tree preservation orders are an embarrassment to the council and the developer. It is already over-developed.”
Ward councillor, Peter Hall, said: “It is unbelievable. It has put the whole planning system into disrepute. I am lost for words – so disgusted.
“They’ve been there for 70 years or more and cannot be replaced.”
Cllr Lesley Dedman said: “I am deeply disappointed. This is sacrilege; we have made a huge effort to save these trees and now they are gone.”
Cllr Ray Nottage, leader of Christchurch council, said: “I am saddened by the fact we have lost the trees but I do not think officers have got any alternative in view of public safety.
“I think the damage has to be discussed between the officers and the developer.”
And Cllr Nick Geary, chairman of audit and scrutiny, said the facts of the issue seem to be “self-evident”.
“No councillors have voted to cut any trees down”, he said.
Neil Farmer, strategic director at Christchurch Borough Council, said developer’s Renaissance contacted the council “concerned” about the state of two more trees.
"Our tree officer went down to inspect the site at first light and saw that the trees were indeed in a dangerous state.
"From a health and safety standpoint, the tree officer recommended felling the trees and I accepted this was necessary.”
He said the developer’s were doing work within the boundary of the site and “have a planning consent which they are entitled to implement within that site.”
"Whilst it is unfortunate that these trees have had to come down, as part of the landscaping of that part of Druitt Gardens, an additional 30 trees will be planted”, he added.
“The council does not anticipate the removal of any further trees however our tree officer and building control officer will be monitoring the work to ensure that the developer complies fully with their planning permission.”
Robert Taylor, managing director of Renaissance Retirement Ltd, said the latest incident was a “repeat” of what happened on Wednesday.
“Hopefully this is the end of it. Obviously the whole episode is deeply regrettable but the difficulty we have is since the roots have been damaged we can’t not do anything”, he said.
“There is no way I could have prevented it.”