Residents' fury after tree felling near Bedford - but council says they had to go for "safety reasons"

Council says they were self-grown and were unstable
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The council has angered residents on one housing estate after 1,300 trees were felled without any prior consultation.

Residents say these trees screened Ampthill’s ugly industrial estate from their £500,000 houses.

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After - how the A507 looks like now (Picture: Malcolm Tattersall)After - how the A507 looks like now (Picture: Malcolm Tattersall)
After - how the A507 looks like now (Picture: Malcolm Tattersall)
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While last week they looked out on a bucolic scene of conifers, teeming with wildlife, they now look out at an ugly blue metal wall covered in graffiti. Every tree chopped down, they claim, knocks thousands of pound off the value of their homes.

But Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) says the work was necessary for safety reasons as many of the trees were self-grown and had become unstable.

CBC councillor Gary Summerfield is also taking up cudgels on residents’ behalf. Ironically, perhaps, Ampthill’s current mayor, Cllr Susan Clinch, who represents the town on the CBC, is a member of the Green Party.

Angry Cllr Stephen Addy, who lives on Ampthill Heights estate, is leading the fight. He said: “CBC Highways people have planned the work going on for a month with no consultation with residents.”

Before - how the A507 used to lookBefore - how the A507 used to look
Before - how the A507 used to look
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Part of the A507, Ampthill bypass, is being closed for most of the working day while the tree-felling is carried out.

Some residents even took to Facebook with one saying: “This is a classic case of the local council spending money unnecessarily. Does anyone know of a previous drainage issue?

"The trees are falling and the horrendous blue, graffiti fence is becoming more visible. Our estate will be losing value with every tree that they take. The council need to make the area look decent afterwards as this is not acceptable to any of us living here.

"Our estate is being massively devalued by the ugly appearance of the industrial estate. I know it was there beforehand, but the trees masked its vulgar blue fencing.”

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While another said: “My house is on the A507 off the footpath leading to and from industrial. I cannot believe how exposed the estate is and my house now is. We have so much wildlife that lived there.

"The view from my kitchen window is now some hideous green tower. As a resident that lives by the layby, those trees were also a sense of security. Why were we not informed on this? Every single tree gone.”

A third resident added: “They seem to have chopped far too much and were a good barrier for noise. Also they hid the industrial estate and now its in full view and looks horrendous.”

A spokesman for the council said: “The tree felling works taking place on the A507 are for safety reasons and to protect our highway infrastructure. The trees are self-grown trees, which have established themselves in a drainage ditch – not a suitable place for trees to grow for various reasons. The main risk is that the trees are unstable because they are growing on the side of the ditch, and several have already fallen onto the road, with others leaning and showing signs that they will become a hazard in the near future. The work will also improve water flow in the drainage system, reduce flood risks and allow us to fix road subsidence that has occurred.

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“We have carried out a programme of planting over the past few years in the surrounding area, under the principle of the ‘right tree in the right place’, meaning that we should not be planting trees in areas that cause negative effects to the community and infrastructure. Whereas, we have surveyed every verge in these wards to find suitable planting locations and maximise our urban canopy cover.”