Demo sparked by tree felling at Portsmouth hospital site

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  • A group of demonstrators gathered at St James’ Hospital in Portsmouth
  • Four trees were chopped down by NHS Property Services
  • Objectors claimed the trees could have been saved
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PROTESTERS have spoken of their shock and disappointment after four historic trees on a Portsmouth hospital site were cut down.

About 150 people were at St James’s Hospital in Milton to protest the felling of the trees, which NHS Property Services carried out last Thursday.

Protestors  unhappy about the trees that were cut down at St James' Hospital''Picture: Paul Jacobs (160128-6)

Protestors unhappy about the trees that were cut down at St James' Hospital''Picture: Paul Jacobs (160128-6)

Kimberly Barrett, 28, founder of the group Keep Milton Green, said: ‘People are angry about it.

‘Those trees had been in the environment a long time and people want to preserve as much of that as possible.’

Protesters fear the felling of the trees, which was approved by Portsmouth City Council’s planning committee earlier this month, could lead to back-door development of the site, despite assurances to the contrary from the NHS.

One of the trees, a horse chestnut, became a symbol of the campaigners’ efforts, arguing it was healthy and worth saving.

People are really angry about it

Kimberly Barrett

But the NHS said the trees were dead or dying and needed to be felled as a safety precaution.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said at the protest: ‘It clears the way for development and it shouldn’t have happened.

‘The NHS has chopped them down try to make sure that when the demonstration happened there would be no tree to save.’

Janice Burkinshaw, chairwoman of Milton Neighbourhood Forum, said: ‘We’ve campaigned to keep the St James’ site as it is for the best part of 20 years but it all seems to be coming to a head now. The NHS must be so short of money that they are taking short-sighted decisions.’

Florence Doyle, 16, from Milton, helped organise the protest and said: ‘We don’t want to ever see this happen again.

‘These trees are so old and have gone through so much it’s heartbreaking that some are going.’

The planning committee approved the NHS’s application to cut down the trees on the advice of its tree expert.

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