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Outcry as ancient, mature trees are cut down in Old Paddington Cemetery in an 'act of vandalism'

PUBLISHED: 12:54 19 November 2019 | UPDATED: 15:10 19 November 2019

Mourners campaign to save trees at Paddington Old Cemetery. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Mourners campaign to save trees at Paddington Old Cemetery. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Jonathan Goldberg

Mourners are "shocked and horrified" that council chiefs are allowing healthy, ancient trees in Paddington Old Cemetery to be cut down.

Mourners campaign to save trees at Paddington Old Cemetery. Picture: Jonathan GoldbergMourners campaign to save trees at Paddington Old Cemetery. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Regular visitors arrived at the Willesden Lane cemetery last week to discover a much-loved 150-year-old conifer had been chopped down with only its stump remaining.

They fear an old Oak which is growing "at an angle" is on the list for what they say is "an act of vandalism".

Kay Chapman said: "We arrived last week to find that one of the most wonderful trees had been cut down - only a stump remained and that was cut and taken away the next day so no trace of the tree remains.

"We were deeply upset by this act of vandalism.

"The conifer had grown lying down, no doubt after surviving a storm that knocked it back in its youth. We used to take friends to see it and photograph it and children enjoyed climbing on it.

"It posed no threat to the public as it was lying down."

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Many mourners are furious with the decision. Nina Begue said: "These are trees that were hit by storms decades ago. They grow into shapes that add to the beauty of this space but all they want to do is destroy them. They have no respect for life that has survived.

"They say 'don't worry, we are planting new ones' but the brutality of it is horrendous.

"These are old trees and they just want to butcher them.

"This is the result of a careless, brutal and indifferent attitude by the council."

Campaigners are also concerned the natural habitat of local wildlife - bats, rats, mice, squirrels - will be affected.

"There's a whole life going on here," Selma James said.

Chris Whyte, Brent Council's operational director for environmental services, said: "The council wants to minimise the risk posed to cemetery users and memorials while also improving its biodiversity and sustainability.

"Following complaints about falling trees, branches and roots posing a risk, or causing damage to memorials, a specialist tree contactor identified urgent and essential works throughout the cemetery including the removal of some healthy trees."

He added that "three new trees" would replace each tree removed as part of the removal works.

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