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Residents were horrified when Islington Council workers ripped up masses of their beloved flowers – beds which helped Islington in the London in Bloom competition.

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People on Ambler Road, Highbury, were shocked when they woke up last week to find five tree pits – flower beds under trees which brighten up the street – had been torn out by over-zealous council staff.

This comes on top of two other pits being flattened in nearby Highbury Grange two weeks previously.

The council had originally encouraged the pits but street cleaners seem to have lost the ability to tell the difference between weeds and wildflowers.

One elderly resident asked the cleaner to stop and he told her he was following orders.

Graham Coult, who lives in Highbury Grange, said: “These tree pits have been arbitrarily pulled up by people paid out of the public purse and plants which I grew from seed were ripped up by contractors.

“It’s hard to understand why a member of the council’s team could be so blasé and seemingly arrogant about voluntary work.

“It is hard to describe the emotions one experiences when what one has nurtured for weeks or months is killed.

Naomi Shillinger, who lives in Ambler Road, said: “These were beautiful beds of flowers and it felt like they had been vandalised. It’s hard to understand the hurt you feel when something you have grown is destroyed.

“To be fair to the council, they have always been very supportive of our efforts to green up the neighbourhood and they have been very apologetic about what happened. There are no hard-feelings.”

Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of Islington’s Lib Dem opposition, said: “It’s hypocritial that this happened while the council was promoting Islington in Bloom.

“With the data leak, it’s another example of how shambolic the council is.”

Cllr Paul Smith, executive member for environment, said: “We responded positively when residents asked to plant these tree pits.

“Their clearance was an honest mistake by our street cleaners who were doing a tidy up. We will better mark the location of tree pits which should be left alone so this does not happen again.

“We are asking residents how they want the plants restored for the future.”

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