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Lichfield man criticises council for cutting down remembrance trees to make way for southern bypass

A Lichfield man has criticised the “disregard” for the feelings of families who planted remembrance trees that have been cut down to make way for the new southern bypass.

Bob Harrison and his family planting their tree in 1986
Bob Harrison and his family planting their tree in 1986

Bob Harrison, his mother, wife and sons aged two and six, were among a group of families invited to plant the trees on the land between London Road and Wordsworth Close.

But the area has now been cordoned off and the trees chopped down by Staffordshire County Council as part of preparatory works for the new road.

Mr Harrison said: “The idea was to plant these trees with loved family members and return back to the tree 50 years later to remember this lovely day, and to also remember those family members who helped us and who are no longer with us.

The certificate issues at the time the tree was planted
The certificate issues at the time the tree was planted

“To that end, we were all given a certificate to mark the occasion and to remind us to return to the tree in November 2036.

“Since that time, the tree has taken on more relevance following the passing of my mum, and has become even more poignant after the death of my wife eight years ago.”

Mr Harrison discovered the trees fate when he tried to visit it recently.

He said: “I walk my dog past these trees most days and spend a moment in quiet reflection, so you can understand my feelings when I passed by this week when, not only could I not get access to the tree but find that it has been felled.

“While I understand that the southern bypass is to be run through this area, I cannot believe the crass nature in which the work is being undertaken with total disregard for the feelings of the people that entered into this remembrance effort 32 years ago.”

The trees cut down to make way for the Lichfield southern bypass
The trees cut down to make way for the Lichfield southern bypass

Cllr Mark Winnington, from Staffordshire County Council, said he was sorry to hear of the tree’s significance, but said no concerns had been raised by other local groups when the plans were drawn up.

“We regret that this tree which had sentimental value has had to be removed as part of the southern bypass works,” he said.

“Unfortunately it had been planted on a route which had been protected since the 1960s and the county council consulted with both district and city councils with no issues raised.

“There were no tree protection orders and nothing to distinguish this tree.

“We also held a public information event in December to ensure people knew of the details of the works programme and again no concerns were raised about the removal of trees.”

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  1. AnnS

    8th March, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    I feel your pain Mr Harrison as the same thing happened to my family with a tree planted in 2000 at the national memorial arboretum in memory of my mother. It was felled to make way for the new function centre but we were never informed and I only discovered it when I went on my annual visit last year. My father, who has now died was inconsolable.

  2. Sue Woodward

    8th March, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    “Nothing to distinguish this tree”? What a completely insensitive comment.

  3. John Griffin

    8th March, 2019 at 8:11 pm

    Vandalism. Rude bloody vandalism.

  4. Tom

    9th March, 2019 at 7:55 am

    ‘There’s no point acting all surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display in your local planning
    department in Alpha Centauri for fifty of your Earth years, so you’ve had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it’s far too late to start
    making a fuss about it now.’

  5. Steph

    9th March, 2019 at 8:31 am

    Absolutely appalling.

  6. Darryl Godden

    9th March, 2019 at 8:54 am

    The bigger question here is the poor way information is disseminated, Mark Winnington can hold all the public sessions he wants, but until the information is shared in a human readable and relatable way, people will only become aware of plans and development as they happen.

    A prime example of this is the Shenstone local plan that has been shoved through doors here, it’s an abject example of obfuscation and bureaucratic buzzwords, I’d be surprised if many fill it in as they simply won’t understand what is being asked.

  7. Doris English

    9th March, 2019 at 9:56 am

    My husband now deceased and I helped our grandson plant a tree that day. He too received a certificate. We have heard pleas to.plant more trees how sad that those planted with such hope for the future are gone. It was part of the Darwin walk founded by the late John Sanders who is remembered by Sanders Way when as a councillor I suggested the his memory for all he contributed to the City of Lichfield.
    Doris English

  8. Mark Cooper

    9th March, 2019 at 11:27 am

    The council has total disregard for anything and anyone. It’s absolutely disgusting.

  9. TreeMadDog

    9th March, 2019 at 12:41 pm


  10. Paula-diane Lufflum

    10th March, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    This is disgusting, the same has sort of happened to my dad’s trees on the chase, they have been resold and my dad’s ashes are under and nan and gandad’s ashes are around the trees.

  11. Joanne Grange

    10th March, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    @Tom. Brilliant. Just brilliant.

  12. Claire Holmed

    10th March, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    Disgraceful and insensitive, council should be ashamed

  13. Philip Allso

    11th March, 2019 at 10:24 am

    You may as well be baying at the moon for all the good it will do. The council (and its administrators) work on the basis of ‘ride out the storm they will soon forget and we will do whatever we think necessary’. The same with local elections, we are stuck in a never changing circle. We are constantly being played by those who gain power for its own sake and any advantages they may gain. I apologise to any true altruists involved, you must feel very lonely.

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