Mid Devon Council workmen fell residents' jubilee tree
A TREE planted by residents of a Mid Devon cul-de-sac to mark the Queen's Silver Jubilee has been hacked down by district council workmen.
The sapling grew into a "healthy specimen" at Butler Close, Tiverton, after it was bought by householders as part of celebrations to mark the Royal occasion in 1977.
But the council says it was felled to increase the amount of direct sunlight harnessed by solar panels.
It says it has 'no record' of a memorial tree in the close and has now apologised to residents and offered to plant a replacement.
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But many are angry and bemused over the felling, carried out without notice by the council.
Andrea Jones took pictures of the tree being cut down and has complained about it.
And Roy Brown wrote a letter to the council leader Peter Hare-Scott on behalf of his 92-year-old mother Doris, who he said was particularly distressed over the incident.
He said: "The destruction of this tree can only be described as an act of vandalism, for which no discernible reason exists.
"There has been some conjecture that its branches and leaves were blocking sunlight from solar panels on the roofs of nearby houses but, the tree was fairly small, the roofs in question were tens of metres away and the daily passage of the sun cast the tree's shadow elsewhere.
"My mother is both hurt and angry about the destruction of the memorial tree and would much appreciate an explanation from Mid Devon District Council, both about its action in felling the tree and its failure to first seek the views of the residents."
Mr Brown said his mother could no longer leave her flat unassisted and to watch the tree come into leaf in the spring and flourish over the summer was one of her pleasures in life.
Andrea Jones of 20 Butler close said: "I think it's disgusting; I thought they were just tidying it up but they cut it down."
Ms Jones, who lives in one of the homes said to have been affected by the tree, said she hadn't experienced any problems with her solar panels and couldn't see the need for the tree's removal.
She said: "It was a lovely red tree and now Butler Close looks like any old estate in Tiverton."
It was only last year when the Woodland Trust encouraged community groups across the country to help the organisation succeed in planting 3m trees to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. So far, near 5.5m have been planted.
Nick Sanderson, head of housing and property services at the council, said it apologised for the removal of the tree.
Mr Sanderson said: "The decision to remove the tree was made in January, 2012, when solar photovoltaic panels were being installed.
"However, due to a backlog of work the tree has recently been removed. The tree had to be removed as it was blocking light needed to maintain the best production of energy from the solar panels to benefit four council house tenants and help address fuel poverty. The council doesn't have a record of the tree being provided as a memorial tree for the Silver Jubilee and it's unfortunate that during the busy installation period mistakes happen through best intentions. The council will be responding to Mrs Brown to apologise and discuss suitable locations for a replacement."