Call to replace 15 holly trees axed in Batley park

Holly trees have been cut down at Wilton Park, Batley
Holly trees have been cut down at Wilton Park, Batley

Four years after successfully fighting to save them, 15 holly trees have been chopped down at Batley’s Wilton Park, angry campaigners have learned.

Together with Mike Wood, Peter Fawcett saved the 15 hollies from destruction, but found out they had been removed to reduce anti-social behaviour at the police’s request, according to Kirklees Council.

Unimpressed Peter said: “The council has waited four years, said nothing and sneakily chopped them down without a word to me. If a member of the public had done this, they would be prosecuted in court and at least get a large fine. What has been done is an outrage.” Peter said the trees were healthy and two feet across at the stump, the smallest being more than double the 75mm width required to meet the legal definition of a tree.

Following investigation of a 1998 cutting down of 11 holly trees in Batley’s Memorial Park, Kirklees planted 11 new hollies to replace the ones removed. Peter claims their destruction contravened the 1990 Planning Act which could result in a £20,000 fine and called for replacements to be planted.

A Kirklees Council spokesperson said: “The holly trees have been removed to reduce anti-social behaviour. The police and local neighbourhood management group made the request, following a number of incidents where people were throwing stones at passing buses. In order to increase visibility and making the area brighter; so that it feels safer and is less attractive to those wishing to commit crime - we arranged to remove the bushes.”

Since removal no further incidents of anti-social behaviour in that area have been reported, she added.