Peterborough Trees Under Threat from Council

07:22 Thursday 28th July 2011
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Council officials announced proposals to remove a third of the trees on Bridge Street in the city centre. The idea is currently open to consultation, but not everyone is impressed. Joining us now is Cllr Nick Sandford, Leader of the Peterborough Liberal Democrats. Morning Nick.
NICK SANDFORD: Morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: To tree or not to tree, why are we even asking this question?
NICK SANDFORD: Well I think we should be saying, to tree, because you’ve got to bear in mind Peterborough has got the smallest level of tree cover of the entire country, and you need to bear in mind that although we’re going through a cool spell of weather at the moment, the predictions are that we’re going to get much hotter summers, and trees provide a massive range of benefits. And so we shouldn’t be taking out a third of the trees in Bridge Street, when they’re not really causing any harm.
PAUL STAINTON: Why are we taking them out? Why are we proposing to perhaps do that?
NICK SANDFORD: I think it’s an example of Peterborough City Council, which has lots of positive green policies, that in a number of areas, when you look at what the Council actually does in practice, they don’t match up to their aspirations. You can look at the hospital site, where they chopped down overĀ  1,000 trees. You can look at the 1,600 square metres of shrubs that have been torn out, all over Peterborough. But we’ve got this one street in the city centre, and you most likely. like myself, walked down there during the summer. It provides a really nice haven of tranquility. You can get shelter from the hot sun. And they want to take that away for no apparent reason.
PAUL STAINTON: There is no reason then?
NICK SANDFORD: Well they’re saying that it might improve the health of the trees to take out a few. But those trees have been there since around the 1980’s, as far as I can remember. And certain of the trees were planted to commemorate various things. There’s one tree that was planted to commemorate Peterborough becoming an Environment City, back in 1992. It would be particularly ironic of that was the tree that was taken out.
PAUL STAINTON: So the consultation suggests what, three options I believe? Get rid of all the trees, get rid of a third of the trees, or leave it as it is, which apparently is going to cost more money?
NICK SANDFORD: Yes but it’s not really a fair and balanced consultation. It’s a bit like the consultation the Primary Care Trust are carrying out. It’s obvious from the phraseology of the question that they’ve already decided what’s going to happen. It’s saying, well, you can opt to keep the trees, but it’s going to cost you loads. But there’s absolutely no rational explanation as to why it’s going to cost a large amount of money.
PAUL STAINTON: We’ve already lost all the greenery from Cathedral Square of course, and we’re told this morning, a new study says, butterlies and bees are in the city centre. So if we chop everything down, there’s nowhere for them to pollinate, is there?
NICK SANDFORD: Well absolutely. I was with a friend of mine, who was over from Australia, earlier this week, and we were walking through Cathedral Square. And he saw the Square, concrete and blocks, and he was saying what are those for. Because of course as normally happens the fountains weren’t functioning. And he compared it to a landscape in the outback of Australia.
PAUL STAINTON: So will you be campaigning Nick heavily to keep all of the tres in Bridge Street?
NICK SANDFORD: Well I think we should. If there’s an individual tree that’s got some serious issue with it, if it’s got a disease, if it’s in a dangerous condition, then maybe that should be taken out and replaced. But as far as I know these trees are perfectly healthy.
PAUL STAINTON: Will you be chaining yourself to trees Nick, if they go down there with the chainsaw?
NICK SANDFORD: Well it shouldn’t really come to that. In a Council where the Council leadership claims to be the Environment Capital of the country, you should expect that they actually implement the very green policies that they put forward. But I would really urge anybody listening to the programme who cares about trees, and I think an awful lot of people in Peterborough do, to go on to the Council’s internet site and really make sure that their views are put forward.
PAUL STAINTON: Nick, thank you for that. If you care about trees, get on the Council website. Do you care whether they’re chopped down? Do you? You do? Well let is know what you think.

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