Letchworth GC family stumped after Heritage Foundation fell oak tree

A war of words has broken out between Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation and a family over the felling of an oak tree. The Brignall family, of Greenway, Letchworth GC, have accused the Foundation of vandalism after an 80-year-old tree that overloo

A war of words has broken out between Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation and a family over the felling of an oak tree.

The Brignall family, of Greenway, Letchworth GC, have accused the Foundation of vandalism after an 80-year-old tree that overlooked their garden was felled on Thursday.

The Foundation says the tree was diseased and was felled for safety reasons.

But Miles Brignall, 43, disputes the claims saying: "The actions of the Foundation are disgraceful.


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"For months we had been in discussions to try and save the tree that was a haven for wildlife. The Foundation took the view they were not interested in saving it. It was a glorious tree that has been needlessly chopped down.

"The tree had a slight bit of disease but the Foundation didn't explore any other options."

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Mr Brignall, and his wife Clare, 44, and two children, Theo, seven, and Lottie, nine, recently stood defiantly under the tree to prevent tree surgeons cutting it down. He also insists that tree surgeons under contract to the Foundation watched the family go out before they cut the tree down so there would be no repeat protest.

Mrs Brignall said: "As soon as I saw what they had done I burst into tears. They appear to have waited until we had gone out, then snuck in and reduced it to a stump. My children were in tears. This is nothing short of vandalism."

Stuart Kenny, director general of the Foundation, said: "We bent over backwards to try and save the tree, including considering pruning on a regular basis, but our insurers insisted we take heed of the professional advice in order to maintain full liability cover.

"Not to do so would have been negligent in the extreme and would have left a potentially dangerous situation for Mrs and Mrs Brignall, their children and passers-by if the tree had fallen.

"We gave the Brignalls adequate time to commission their own expert to do a written report, but this did not materialise.

"Our experts identified this seriously decaying oak tree, which is on our land, but in close proximity to houses in Greenway and a publicly used path."

Mr Brignall also said the Foundation 'appears intent on felling anything that presents the remotest risk and a further 100 trees around Letchworth GC are thought to be at risk'.

He added: "Despite the PR nonsense they constantly spout, they aren't the least bit interested in saving trees. The idea they looked at pruning it is nonsense. They simply said we won't accept any risk, and cut it down."

These points Mr Kenny also refutes saying: "We don't cut trees down for the sake of it. Our tree credentials are undeniable, having planted 25,000 trees over the last 10 years.

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