Campaigners fight on to save trees in Letchworth GC, despite Foundation's decision to axe them

CAMPAIGNERS trying to save four trees say they will continue their fight despite Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation refusing to give the trees a reprieve. But protesters, who have received letters of support from the Prince of Wales, say they are

CAMPAIGNERS trying to save four trees say they will continue their fight despite Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation refusing to give the trees a reprieve.

But protesters, who have received letters of support from the Prince of Wales, say they are keeping their plans to try and prevent the trees being felled a secret.

The Foundation's board met this week to discuss the controversy over the trees in Leys Square that has caused public anger and a weekly protest in the square that raised a petition signed by over 18,000 people.

The petition was handed over to the board at their meeting on Tuesday at the Spirella Building by a group of the campaigners.


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Later the Foundation's board said in a statement: "The board fully discussed the well-publicised issues about the four trees in Leys Square that are due to come down soon, as part of the Letchworth Garden City Town Centre regeneration programme that is currently underway.

"The board discussed, in great detail, the concerns of those who wanted to save the trees and keep them where they are now. But the plans, which have secured all the necessary consents and were supported in a lengthy and extensive public consultation, will not be changed.

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"To have done so, would have prejudiced the integrity of the whole scheme which had been carefully designed.

"The four trees in Leys Square, some of which, we are advised, are not in the best condition, will be removed so that we can create a large, central, user-friendly space suitable for events for years to come, such as a much bigger farmer's market.

"There are many new, quality trees being planted in Leys Avenue and other parts of the town centre, so the garden city feel will certainly not be lost."

The statement added: "The board considered, at length, removing the trees from Leys Square but replanting them in the Greenway. However, the prospects of the trees surviving were not good and given the substantial costs involved in relocation, could not be justified by the board - the Foundation's trustees.

"The Foundation's green credentials should not be in question. We have planted over 37,000 new trees in the garden city estate over the last 11 years, planted three kilometres of hedgerows, created new wildlife habitats and wildflower areas. We are planning further such initiatives."

But one of the lead campaigners, Sue Hogg of Wilbury Road, Letchworth GC, said: "The board may have confirmed their intentions regarding the trees but our fight to save them goes on and we will be in the square again on Saturday.

"The Prince of Wales has sent us two letters of support and the Woodland Trust put the Letchworth case on its web site as an example of bad practice by a largely unelected governing body.

"We will be keeping a watch on the trees is all I can say."

The Foundation has said the trees will be felled in early October.

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