Peterborough councillor says saving much loved ancient oak tree will cost city taxpayers ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds’

A Peterborough City Councillor has said saving a much loved oak tree which is under threat would cost city tax payers ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds.

By Stephen Briggs
Saturday, 19th February 2022, 12:45 pm

The tree, which is located in Bretton, is under threat as council officers are confident beyond any reasonable doubt that the tree is causing structural damage to a nearby home and that a further home is also raising a claim against the council - as owners of the tree.

However, hundreds of Peterborough residents have signed a petition to save the 600 year old tree. On Tuesday night it was given a temporary reprieve at a meeting of Peterborough City Council. A final decision will be made on Monday.

The oak tree in Bretton.

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

He said: “This truly is a no-win situation. Should the tree be lost it will be felt deeply by the local community and beyond. If it is saved, the council will likely need to set aside hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money in compensation to protect one tree in the city - money that will have to be diverted from other essential council services.

“Officers have carefully set out the wide range of issues and factors that have been considered to date.

“I have listened carefully to what Scrutiny Committee Members have said and their recommendations and comments will influence a final decision which will be made by Cabinet. Part of that consideration will be balancing whether we should sacrifice one tree, in order to have enough money to look after thousands of other trees in the city - and continue with our tree planting schedule which will see 3,300+ new trees planted in Peterborough by April 2022.

“It is a very difficult decision. Therefore, it’s only right this decision is made in the public domain and the reasons for the decision are transparent - Myself and other cabinet members have listened carefully to a speech made during Full Council in December and to the scrutiny committee. We will make a final decision at Cabinet on Monday.”

Peterborough City Council had previously given permission for it to be felled, despite a Tree Preservation Order on one of the trunks, due to a claim from an insurance company that the roots had caused damage to a nearby house.

But the residents’ campaign was supported by calls from Peterborough MP Paul Bristow that everything possible should be done to keep the tree.