Peterborough MP and campaigners remain defiant as council insist ancient oak tree must be felled

Peterborough MP Paul Bristow and campaigners both remain defiant after Peterborough City Council insisted that an ancient oak tree in the city must be felled.

By Ben Jones
Sunday, 29th August 2021, 6:59 am
Richard Elmer infront of the tree in Ringwood he is fighting to protect.
Richard Elmer infront of the tree in Ringwood he is fighting to protect.

On Wednesday (August 25), the council issued a statement in which it said it was “deeply saddened” but that a 600-year-old oak tree, that campaigners have fought hard to save; receiving support from Mr Bristow along the way, must be felled.

The issue has arisen after the insurance company of a nearby property made an application to have the tree removed; claiming the roots were doing damage to a property next to the tree.

Residents in Ringwood, Bretton, where the tree is located, have collected over 2000 signatures on an online petition and have set up a 24-hour watch to see if contractors arrive to cut the tree down.

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Peterborough MP Paul Bristow.

Mr Bristow has since met with protestors and has written a letter to the council’s Chief Executive Officer Gillian Beasley, in which he stated that he was “determined to work with local residents and the council to ensure this tree is protected.”

In light of the council’s position, Mr Bristow insists that he is not giving up on saving the tree and is pushing for a meeting with council officers as soon as possible.

He said: “I am not giving up the hope that something might be done to save this much loved tree. The very least residents deserve is a meeting with those who are advising the council.

“This is not just any old tree. It’s over 600 years old and has a special place in the hearts of local people. I refuse to accept there is no other option.

“I have emailed the Council Chief Executive asking for a meeting between council officers, advisers and local residents at the earliest convenient time.”

Campaigners to save the tree share Mr Bristow’s defiance and have called on the council to spend the money required to rectify the issues with the property and put right what they describe as an “oversight” in granting them planning permission.

Richard Elmer, who has stood in the way of workers attempting to fell parts of the tree, said: “The council are suggesting that the money required to rectify this situation is to come from the tree maintenance budget. The planning authority would not have granted permission for the house if it would have resulted in the removal of the tree. The spread of veteran trees barely changes from year to year and the affected property is relatively new. Therefore, if the property is now within the influence of the rooting system of the tree, the site was either within it when planning permission was granted or very close to being within it.

“With the above points in mind, it would be fair to conclude that there was an oversight on the part of the planning department on this occasion. Money now needs to be spent to mitigate the consequences of the decision. If it was an oversite then the council should claim on their professional indemnity insurance. This is surely the kind of situation they have insurance for.

“This is a point we shall be raising at the promised meeting. Furthermore they mention the work required to save the tree could (note the word “could”) result in greenhouse gas emissions. This frankly is an insult to our intelligence and just a pathetic attempt to cloud the issue. How much carbon has this tree absorbed in its time and how much carbon will it absorb in the future. The reason there were no objections was because no one knew about their plans. Once people knew of their intention there have been plenty of objections, well in excess of 2,100 in fact. I find their suggestion of a “sculpture” frankly disgusting. They say they do not have the money to save the tree but they offer to spend money on a rotting memento of the loss to the neighbourhood. This is just an example of how this council misspent our money.

“I also mentioned to Cllr Nigel Simons that the neighbourhood watch arrangement was tested the other day. When a PCC car was seen parked near the tree. I received no less than 5 phone calls and one elderly neighbour came knocking on my door to notify me. It turns out it was a false alarm. The council was distributing vaccination leaflets, however it does show the system works.”