Protests as NHS cuts down tree in Portsmouth

CAMPAIGNERS have been left upset after a much-loved tree was cut down in Milton.

Thursday, 28th January 2016, 10:17 am
Updated Thursday, 28th January 2016, 5:14 pm
Picture: Kevin Doyle

Tree surgeons moved in early this morning at the St James’ Hospital site to cut down a horse chestnut.

Members of Keep Milton Green are due to protest on Sunday but NHS Property Services – the owner of the site – moved in today.

Councillor Ben Dowling, a ward member for Milton, said: ‘Firstly it shows just how out of touch the NHS is locally, otherwise they would have realised the public feeling and at least waited until after this weekend.

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‘Secondly it just goes to show the determination behind doing this work.’

He said he fears ‘backdoor development’ – but the NHS has said the work is necessary and it will replace all four trees being cut down with saplings.

A spokesman for the NHS previously said the move to cut down four trees was not connected to any development.

‘We responded to local concerns about the risks posed to people and property,’ he said.

James Wakeham, regional director for NHS Property Services, said: ‘We recognise that some people hold strong views about keeping these trees.

‘But I can reassure them that we have responded to local concerns and expert advice in removing the trees as they were dead or dying.

‘As landlord, we have a responsibility to everyone who uses the St James Hospital site.

‘And once planning permission for the work was granted we scheduled the work to begin as soon as possible in the interests of protecting people’s safety.

‘We have been very clear that the work to these trees is not related to any other planning or development matters regarding the site and that the trees will be replaced.’

Picture: Kevin Doyle