Anger as trees cut down outside Grantham school before crossing built

The trees are felled on Harrowby Road, Grantham, where the zebra crossing will be installed.
The trees are felled on Harrowby Road, Grantham, where the zebra crossing will be installed.

Residents and campaigners have voiced their anger after two trees were cut down before work starts on building a zebra crossing outside a Grantham school.

The trees, outside St Anne’s School in Harrowby Road, were cut down by contractors last week, but it is claimed that it was never planned to fell trees as part of the crossing proposal.

Harrowby Road resident Patsy Ellis wrote to Richard Wills, executive director environment and economy, saying: “My neighbours and I are incandescent with rage concerning the removal of two trees today across the road from us in preparation for the crossing.

“Over the course of the many years of consultation on this project and certainly in the final plan, the trees were to remain in situ.

“You can only imagine my horror this morning when the tree cutters arrived. (We were not given any notice of this). My neighbour and I immediately got on our phones to try to talk to someone within the Highways Department. I got through to Mark Heaton and passed him on to my neighbour, Darren Timms. He confirmed with Darren that they needed to cut two trees down. The tree cutter over the road shouted across ‘three’. Following the arrival of Councillor Morgan on the site and very many phone calls later, it was agreed that only two would be removed for the time being.

“Is it a question of incompetence or one of arrogance? Or is it a combination of both? In any event, I demand an answer and also demand that you launch an investigation into how you can have overlooked the matter of the removal of the trees in all of your previous plans and consultations.”

District and county councillor Charmaine Morgan says she called for the trees to be saved. As a result one of three trees earmarked for felling was saved.

Coun Morgan said: “After a design meeting with senior highways officers we were given assurances that it would be possible to provide the crossing without losing any trees.

“It appears the officers used our designs to seek support for the scheme during the public consultation process and when the case came to the LCC Highway Regulatory and Planning commitee. As a result I supported the scheme and so did the committee. However it has now emerged that LCC Highways officers took the case to the public and to the Highways committee before they had completed final safety design checks. The case was rushed through the process and as a result we were all misled over what the final design would be.”

Mark Heaton, area highways manager, said: “We completed an extensive consultation process with local residents over three years for the zebra crossing on Harrowby Road.

“Following this it is our standard practice to complete a safety audit, where we check with the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership that they are satisfied with the design, and that the crossing meets the necessary criteria.

“At this stage unfortunately it was decided that at least two of the trees may have to be removed, if not all three, to improve visibility at the crossing and to keep pedestrians safe.”