Gardener’s fury as Wilton Park’s holly trees under threat

GARDENER'S FURY Peter Fawcett said felling holly trees would destroy Wilton Park's heritage.
GARDENER'S FURY Peter Fawcett said felling holly trees would destroy Wilton Park's heritage.

An award-winning gardener has accused council bosses of destroying Wilton Park’s heritage after plans to cut down an avenue of holly trees were revealed.

Peter Fawcett, who worked as a Kirklees Council gardener for 32 years, was furious after learning that the trees were due for the chop last Thursday.

Following an intervention by Batley and Spen MP Mike Wood, the holly trees, which are around 100 years old, were given a stay of execution. But Peter, 64, has hit out at the council’s aborted plans.

He said: “Why? They are doing no harm and are providing food for wildlife.

“There is nothing like holly berries for the birds and they also provide nesting places for them.

“It’s not gardening, it’s short-term thinking.

“These are not green policies from a so-called green council - how can they be a green council when they are cutting down green things? They are just destroying our heritage.”

Mr Wood said he understood council staff were under pressure but planned to quiz officers about why ‘so much devastation is being wrought’.

He said: “These attacks are a sustained attempt to reduce the quality of our parks and the expertise needed to maintain them.

“Healthy, mature and attractive trees and bushes have been lost all over Batley and Spen and flower beds have been reduced year on year - in spite of assurances that works would only happen following consultation.

“Senior staff have stepped in to stop bushes and trees from being ripped out following requests from my office on a number of occasions.

“But I want to know why the work is taking place in the first place if senior staff are opposed to it.”

He said without people like Peter the situation would be far worse.

A council spokeswoman said the refurbishment of planted areas was a key part of its park management and was often in response to consultation or requests.

She said ecological issues and park attractiveness were considered.

She added: “There were plans to work on some hollies in Wilton Park but following concerns raised by MP Mike Wood this has not progressed. We are now in the process of reviewing the proposed works, taking into account the comments raised, we will provide feedback to MP Mike Wood before any further work is carried out on the hollies.”