Town councillor claims victory in row over felling of more than 1,000 trees by A507 in Ampthill

The view after the trees were felled. Picture supplied by Cllr Steve AddyThe view after the trees were felled. Picture supplied by Cllr Steve Addy
The view after the trees were felled. Picture supplied by Cllr Steve Addy
A town councillor is claiming “a win” with the promise of a Central Bedfordshire Council procedural change, after a row over “excessive tree felling” by the A507 at Ampthill.

The shake-up in the communications process is “exactly what I was trying to achieve”, town councillor Stephen Addy told the local democracy reporting service.

Welcoming the news, he said: “We’ve had verbal apologies, statements using the phrase ‘regretful’, but now we’ve real progress in a process change.

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“My concerns are with how this will be monitored and communicated to all councils around future significant highways work.

“I look forward to holding the town council to its promise to support residents in jointly funding mitigation works after the excessive tree felling by highways.”

A decision by CBC to fell more than 1,000 trees opposite Ampthill Heights presented residents with a view of a blue industrial estate boundary fence, subsequently daubed with graffiti.

Commenting on a final report to CBC’s sustainable communities overview and scrutiny committee, Green Party Ampthill councillor Susan Clinch said: “I’m particularly happy to see the communication lessons learned section and it’s been recognised more consideration should have been given.

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“I’m happy the service will ensure due consideration is given to the legal implications in future and the overall impact of works when deciding the level of communications needed.

“It’s not just people driving on the road that are affected by changes on the highways. The town council is waiting with bated breath for information to pass on to residents and businesses about what will be done to mitigate the visual impact of the tree felling.

“It seems bizarre to me there was no communication between CBC highways and both our own drainage engineers and the internal drainage board, after the initial stage.

“Water goes from one place to another. One of the issues for residents with the drainage scheme is the water sits. It isn’t draining into the ditches maintained by the board.

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“A concern remains it was a well-motivated, but not well-planned, piece of work and understanding that highways (work) isn’t just about a strip of tarmac, which is fundamental around our integrated approach to flooding.

“So highways and the internal drainage board need to work together and it’s not always about where the boundary starts and stops.”

CBC Independent Biggleswade West councillor Hayley Whitaker said: “Ward members specifically asked for a report back with lessons learned.

“Officers have added that, as well as the legal aspects, essentially setting out why the works took place and those lessons learned from the communications around it

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“I’ve seen the plan for mitigation works, which is signed off, and you should be receiving that imminently.

“We weren’t required to consult on this scheme. We do engage. That’s an important clarification to make. CBC highways works with the internal drainage board all the time.”

The report about the lessons learned noted: “The initial rationale behind the A507 works was a response to the need to dredge the highway drainage ditches to improve the flow and alleviate the risk of flooding locally”.