Upset as memorial trees are damaged

Richard White with one of the damaged trees in Great Ouseburn. (S)
Richard White with one of the damaged trees in Great Ouseburn. (S)

A PENSIONER says he has been left dismayed after trees he planted as a living memorial to a judge were damaged by a flail cutter.

Richard White, 72, of Great Ouseburn, planted a row of nearly 30 lime trees on Church Field Lane in the village in 2000 following a request and funding from the family of Judge Peter Stanley Price – a former resident who had died in 1998.

Mr White – a retired landscape contractor who has tended to the trees ever since – said he learned of the damage after being contacted by concerned villagers.

“I felt sick – that’s the only description I can give. Dismayed and sick,” he said.

“And it’s very distressing for everyone else. People have been ringing me to ask was I aware of the damage and what’s going to be done about it.”

Mr White said there is a history of the trees beingharmed over the years but this had been the worst case, with more than three-quarters of the trees affected.

“The damage involves the upper branches about two to three metres high,” he said.

“They have obviously been damaged by a flail because they are not neatly cut.”

The planting of the trees 12 years ago was carried out through consultation between Great Ouseburn Parish Council and Harrogate Borough Council to ensure correct spacings and distances from the highway were observed.

But Mr White said despite previous efforts, the trees are not legally protected.

“It could happen again tomorrow and there’s nothing you can do to stop it so I have asked Great Ouseburn Parish Council to seek a protection order.”

The issue was on the agenda at the parish council’s meeting on Wednesday, February 22, following a letter from Mr White.

Speaking after the meeting, council chairman Keith Scott said: “As far as North Yorkshire County Council is concerned, trees on grass verges can be cut unless they are protected.

“We don’t know who has done the damage but we will contact the tree preservation officer at Harrogate Borough Council to see if we can get a tree preservation order, and also get some advice on what we can do to put the trees right.”