Campaigners fighting to save ancient Oak in Peterborough issue plea to council

Campaigners who want to save a Peterborough Oak tree have asked the city council to share the information it has used to assess the problems associated with nearby property and reiterated calls to save the ancient Oak.

By Mark Edwards
Sunday, 20th February 2022, 12:26 pm
Protest to stop of the felling of an old oak tree at Ringwood, Bretton pictured in July last year as residents launched a petition.
Protest to stop of the felling of an old oak tree at Ringwood, Bretton pictured in July last year as residents launched a petition.

A lengthy debate on the future of the Oak at a meeting last week saw city councillors vote to commission a further report into the tree and any possible impact on nearby property in Barnard Way, Bretton.

Initially, it was hoped to report back to Cabinet at their next meeting, which is Monday, February 21, but that seems highly unlikely now given the short time available for an independent report to be compiled.

Councillor Nigel Simons, cabinet member for the environment, said after the meeting that the cash strapped council would have to divert funding away from other areas of the city to save the tree.

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Campaigner Emma Bothamley, has issued a statement on behalf of the Bretton Oak campaign team, it said: “In reply to Cllr Simons’ statement regarding the fate of the Bretton Oak in the Peterborough Telegraph, the Bretton Oak campaign team feels this only tells one side of a very complex story.

“Cllr Simons’ statement describes a very emotive scenario that has been repeated since the start of this campaign - that to save this one Oak tree means financial sacrifices elsewhere, including future tree planting and substantial costs to the taxpayer.

“This is very obviously designed to make the Bretton Oak tree appear to be the villain despite us providing evidence time and time again to the council that demonstrates there is real doubt about the tree’s culpability.

“Cllr Simons states council officers are confident beyond all reasonable doubt that the tree is at fault. We are confident that we have proven beyond reasonable doubt that there are other issues involved.

“It’s apparent from Cllr Simon’s statement that these issues have been ignored or overlooked.

“Why would the Council do that?

“We are also being denied access to the same information that the council used to make their decision. We have suggested that they allow our expert access to this information by signing a non-disclosure agreement. We await a response on this point.

“Without the same access to information, we are only ever going to be placed at a disadvantage when fighting this campaign.

“Cllr Simons statement makes the situation appear (to the reader) to be very black & white when that is simply not the case. The Council’s own Scrutiny Committee made comments throughout an epic two and three quarter hour meeting about the number of grey areas in this case and called for many of the issues we have repeatedly flagged to be investigated.

“We totally disagree with the statement that this is a no-win situation.

“There are many reasons why it can be a win-win situation. Why, when there is a real possibility that damage is being caused by other reasons, would the Council not want to take the opportunity to stop and explore those other reasons fully.

“Is that not the responsible and expected course of action to take when so much is at stake?

“That action alone could avoid a disastrous mistake being made.

“That action alone could save this much-loved Oak Tree and avoid the Council making unnecessary compensation payments at the taxpayers’ expense. In times of financial crisis within the Council why is this not being welcomed with open arms?”