Northampton woman launches petition to stop tree felling in Far Cotton

Alice Whitehead is trying to save trees in Far Cotton and wider Northampton.
Alice Whitehead is trying to save trees in Far Cotton and wider Northampton.

A Northampton woman is calling on the council to start properly maintaining and managing the street trees in Far Cotton to prevent the need for removal.

Alice Whitehead, 40, of Far Cotton, is urging the local authority to maintain and manage the trees in her area to make it a more attractive and healthy place to live.

Campaigners turned out to sign the petition in Far Cotton.

Campaigners turned out to sign the petition in Far Cotton.

Alice, who claims trees increase well-being as well as property value and stronger community relationships, has started up a petition to galvanise support to get Northamptonshire County Council to replace the trees, which have been cut down.

"I'm calling on the council to start properly maintaining and, crucially replacing the trees in Far Cotton that have been removed. I feel very passionately that the benefits of street trees greatly outweigh the expense," she said.

Northampton Borough Council maintain the highway trees on behalf of the county council.

"Unlike Government-owned woodlands, which are managed by the Forestry Commission, urban trees stand at the mercy of cash-strapped local councils and a hotchpotch of agencies that may overlook their true value," she added.

"Penrhyn Road used to have one tree for every two houses. Older residents remember a time when the road was lined with beautiful fruit trees and filled with blossom in spring. Now there are only 13 trees left.

"I would say in 10 years time, we will not have any trees down here. Action has to be taken now before it's too late."

On Saturday (December 2) 40 supporters and residents turned out to Alice's event called 'Street Trees For Street Trees' - held during National Tree Week - to sign the petition.

On the day, Alice helped to host a free tree-decorating session and tree poster competition, run in conjunction with the Eco Club at Delapre Primary School.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “The county council as the highway authority is responsible for maintaining highway trees and will remove a tree due to safety if it is diseased or causing structural damage to a nearby property.

“Sometimes where there is a need for a tree to be taken down, it may not be replaced if it is in an unsuitable location.

“Where a tree is taken down the council will try and look to replace a tree elsewhere but due to maintenance liabilities we do try and ensure that a replacement tree is provided on non-highway land wherever possible.

“In terms of funding to replace a tree, we would not permit a private individual to plant a tree on the highway in an ad-hoc way. However we have worked in a more co-ordinated way with the organisations such as the Woodland Trust who have funded trees on the highway.

“Over the past few years, the county council in partnership with the Woodland Trust, have encouraged and enabled the planting of more than 150,000 trees in the county – via community and school tree-planting packs, as well as encouraging famers and landowners to reinstate hedgerows.”

You can sign the petition here: www.change.org/p/protect-vital-street-trees-in-far-cotton