Scuffle breaks out as trees felled in popular memorial garden

Police were called to a memorial garden in Christchurch, Dorset last week after a scuffle broke out between a resident and a contractor over the felling of two trees judged to be unsafe.

The trees at the town's Druitt Gardens were felled on Friday 7 February, despite having tree protection orders recently put on them, as council officials ruled that digging work on a neighbouring development site had undermined them.

The council had been alerted by the developer to the damage to the trees' roots caused by a ditch dug as part of an archaeological investigation on the site.

The council's tree officer confirmed the trees were in a dangerous state and recommended their felling.

Leader of Christchurch borough council Cllr Ray Nottage 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."

In January a community campaign backed by more than 450 residents persuaded the council to grant protection to seven of the garden's trees which the developers of the adjacent site had proposed felling.

Cllr Peter Hall, ward member for the town centre said he was "outraged and disappointed", and added: "I will be pursuing an investigation into this and call for replacement trees to be planted immediately."

Christchurch and East Dorset Councils chief executive David McIntosh confirmed that no action would be taken against the developer, Renaissance Retirement.

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