War of words as cemetery trees chopped down - The Worcester Observer

War of words as cemetery trees chopped down

Worcester Editorial 7th Dec, 2023   0

COUNCIL chiefs have been slammed for the ‘wanton destruction’ of a trio of healthy trees at Worcester St John’s Cemetery.

Coun Alan Amos, city and county councillor for Bedwardine, slammed Worcester City Council for chopping the trees and ‘for giving itself permission to do so as a sickening example of double-standards as the council invariably refuses permission for residents to do the same’.

But a leading Worcester councillor has hit back at the claims and said the actions extended the life of the site by some 25 burial spaces and more than five years.

“The wanton destruction of these beautiful healthy trees has permanently ruined the atmosphere and outlook in the cemetery, a place where people often like to sit in a calm and attractive surrounding,” Coun Amos said.

“There was no proper consultation with people on the westside nor with the council’s own Cemetery and Crematorium Forum for whom this place is much revered. It was done swiftly and secretly so as to prevent any objections.

“The sheer hypocrisy of giving themselves permission for this vandalism, whilst denying so many residents the right to prune or remove trees that are causing them concern or damage to their properties, is breath-taking.

“There is plenty of room for more graves throughout the cemetery and a lot of space available elsewhere in the grounds so this vandalism was completely unnecessary, spiteful, insensitive, and underhand, again showing this council does not care what local people think because “they know best”.

However his comments sparked a strong response from Coun Karen Lewing, chair of Worcester City Council’s Environment Committee.

She said: “Three conifer trees have been taken down at St Johns Cemetery to increase the number of burial spaces available by 25.

“This will extend the burial life of the site from two and a half years to around five and a half years and so ensure the west side of the city will continue to have an active burial ground while further investigations are carried out to see how to further extend the burial life of the site.

“The trees were non-indigenous and of low biodiversity value and as these were council trees on council land and were not covered by any tree preservation order, no approval or permission was required to remove them.

“Council officers did consult with the council’s tree officer, ward councillors and lead members before carrying out the work, which was part of a programme of improvements at the site which has included resurfacing, new signage and general repair work as well as improving the biodiversity of the site,” she added.

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