Residents should have known axe was to fall

COMMENT: University has to prove it offers value for money

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WE have every sympathy with the residents of Anson Grove in Portchester, who have been left feeling decidedly unhappy at the loss of dozens of healthy trees near their homes.

They have two gripes, both legitimate. The first is that no-one told them of the decision to allow the trees to be felled.

And the second is that they have been left vulnerable by the wholesale clearance.

They fear that the newly-levelled ground could be a perfect place for travellers to camp without permission and they also point out that the destruction of what was a natural sound and sight barrier means that it is now far easier for them to see and hear the traffic on the nearby M27.

Perhaps the loss of the trees was unavoidable because of Scottish and Southern Electric’s need to provide access to pylons and cables.

We’re sure that Fareham Borough Council, which owns the land, would have not just granted permission without any consideration.

But residents are entitled to ask why they were not apparently deemed worthy of being a party to that process – or at the very least being informed before the trees were actually chopped down.

As it is, the ward councillors say that they were completely in the dark until the chain saws started to whirr.

One, Roger Price, says: ‘Scottish and Southern notified the council, but the council never notified the ward councillors so we knew nothing about it until we started getting the angry phone calls.

‘I think the council has been negligent in not telling us, members are supposed to be told if there’s something happening in their wards.’

That would seem to be a point well made. The council should review its policies on inclusion of people affected by decisions such as this and should also look favourably at the call for alternative screening from the motorway.

Perhaps that is something with which the electricity firm could help. At the very least, it would help repair a damaged relationship with the residents of Anson Grove.