Council cleared over tree removal for new houses

Words by Gary Carter

TAMESIDE Council has been cleared of any wrongdoing after being inspected by an ombudsman over the removal of protected tress on a housing development.

The authority was referred to the Local Government Ombudsman after the area next to the Churchfields estate in Millbrook was cleared.

Churchfields estate where some of the trees have been cut down

Now the Correspondent has learned it has escaped censure for the way it acted before the diggers moved in, clearing the area completely.

But the woman who reported them is still angry at the way things were conducted.

The LGO asked Tameside to answer claims it did not reveal which trees would be cut down after several were removed.

Jane Slater, who lives next to Stayley Cricket Club, made the complaint to the LGO after the work was done without warning on the area, which will see 29 homes built on it.

And the outcome, which sees Tameside cleared of any inappropriate acts, does not sit well with her.

She said: “They didn’t break any planning laws but for me, what they did do was fail the very people they are supposed to serve by not giving us the courtesy of showing us what their plans were.

“It was supposed to be a consultation process after all. Not much consideration happened though.

“Oh well, another meadow lost forever. I’m glad I raised it though as it will send a message to the council and hopefully make them think twice before destroying green spaces in conservation areas or indeed anywhere.”

A letter from the LGO to Tameside detailed the complaint, stating: “Mrs Slater says that the public was not informed that it was the developer’s intention to remove all the trees, before planning permission was granted.

“She says that, if she had known that this was the plan, then she would have strongly objected to it.

“She therefore feels that the proper consultation process was not followed as the possible loss or effect on trees is a material planning consideration.

“She says she tried to obtain confirmation from the council before the planning permission was granted about which trees were to be removed and retained, but the council did not provide theinformation.”

If it found against Tameside Council, it could have forced them to make an apology, reconsider a decision, make a payment or improve its procedures so similar problems do not happen again.

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