People's poplar front forces council U-turn on Welwyn Garden City trees

PUBLISHED: 17:28 27 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:45 26 October 2009

Safe - at least for now: the poplar trees at WGC's Stanborough Lakes

Safe - at least for now: the poplar trees at WGC's Stanborough Lakes

TREES set for the axe were given a stay of execution thanks to people power. Welwyn Hatfield Council was planning to chop down 673 poplars at Stanborough Park. However, it was forced into an embarrassing U-turn after the public got wind of the plan for t

TREES set for the axe were given a stay of execution thanks to people power.

Welwyn Hatfield Council was planning to chop down 673 poplars at Stanborough Park.

However, it was forced into an embarrassing U-turn after the public got wind of the plan for the WGC beauty spot through the pages of the WHT.

The council, in partnership with Finesse Leisure, had decided to remove and replant the trees amid health and safety fears.

The decision was a done deal and the work to fell the trees was due to start next month.

But outraged residents took on council and Finesse representatives at a public meeting on August 7.

The council extended a public consultation and leading councillors will now decide the trees' fate.

Nothing will be decided until the issue has been discussed at cabinet in October.

Former councillor Dr Dennis Lewis is sceptical about the council's extended plans.

He told the WHT: "Is this a cosmetic consultation or is it a true consultation on the report of an independent consultant, as the previous one [Colin Last] was a contractor so may have had a vested interest?

"There should be a truly independent consultant to carry out a survey on the condition of the Lombardy poplars and that should then be subject to a proper public consultation."

A council spokesman confirmed they were planning on chopping down the trees, but were now going to take more advice before deciding the trees' fate.

He said: "Finesse Leisure and Welwyn Hatfield Council were of the opinion, following health and safety advice, that it was best to fell the trees and as a result were planning to do so.

"However, in view of the strength of public opinion the council will be consulting widely and taking further professional advice before deciding on the future of the Lombardy trees at Stanborough Lakes.

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