Press release and letter to WHT from Mike Hobday (March 4th 2009).
Sir- Welwyn Hatfield Council has admitted that a key report about the Stanborough Lakes Poplar trees was not shown to opposition Councillors. According to the email below, the Gristwood & Toms report, which advised the Council that: “The conclusion is that the trees are a valuable asset worth close to 0.5 million pounds, and that, with a degree of pruning that should be considered as acceptable with this type of tree, ie pollarding, the trees potential for causing harm can be reduced to well within the acceptable limits of risk.” was only shown to Conservative Councillors.
The Cabinet meeting In October 2008 resolved: “That the trees in the south car park at Stanborough Lakes be felled within the next three months in line with risk assessments received from three different consultants all of whom concurred on the level of risk posed by these trees to the public using this car park” [source: http://tinyurl.com/cv3xgu]
Mike Hobday, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Welwyn Hatfield said, “It has now been admitted that only Conservative members were given the secret report that recommended saving the trees that formed such an attractive part of the scenery of the garden city. It’s also clear that Conservative cabinet members were aware that this report did not recommend felling the trees and that the resolution agreed by the Council was an exercise in bare faced deceit in implying that three consultants approved the Council’s decision to cut the trees down.”
“The Stanborough trees scandal shows that the Borough Council operates a culture of secrecy, where key documents are only shown to members of the Conservative Party, who are therefore free to mislead the public about the contents of such reports.” Councillor Clare Berry, as the responsible executive member, must bear the principle responsibility for misleading the public over the supposed justification for chopping down the trees.”
“Had the Cabinet been open and honest with opposition Councillors and the public, it is possible that these beautiful trees would still be standing today.”