Islington Council under attack for cutting down healthy cherry tree

A healthy 20-year-old cherry tree was chopped down without warning by Islington Council – even though its roots were no longer causing any problem.

The fruiting cherry stood in Corbyn Street, Finsbury Park, and was about six metres tall.

But according to neighbour Szilvia Varnai, the council failed to let residents know that the tree was to be chopped down, instead telling them that it was only due to be pruned.

The tree is believed to have been felled because a nearby house had suffered subsidence, but the house had already been underpinned.

Nutritionist and mother-of-two Miss Varnai, 38, said: “I admired the cherry tree all year round. It had beautiful blossoms and it provided fruit for the birds.

“We had an insurance claim because there was cracking around the bay windows.

“The insurers were worried that it was the tree causing it. But they decided to underpin the house. That was done in May.”

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Miss Varnai said the council then put up a sign saying the tree was going to be pruned.

She continued: “I heard the car come on the day. Then I looked out of the window and the tree was gone. I ran out but it was too late. I was crying for two days.

“The workmen said they had even double-checked before carrying out the work because the tree was so healthy.

“Two trees opposite have also gone in the past two to three years. There are hardly any trees left.”

Islington Council’s own tree policy states that the council wants to retain trees and will only fell them if they are dead, dying or dangerous, causing significant structural damage, an inappropriate species for the location or need to go as part of an agreed management programme.

Cllr Paul Smith, executive member for environment at Islington Council, said: “This 20-year-old cherry tree could have been saved – it’s frustrating that the loss adjuster knew we intended to remove it but didn’t tell us they had completed underpinning the property.

“In addition, a notice strapped to the tree on October 19 was removed.

“But we also recognise the council’s contractor did not follow our instruction to put letters through neighbours’ front doors.

“We’ve reminded our contractors they must doordrop letters prior to tree felling.

“It’s our policy to replace trees which are removed and we’ll be letting residents know how we’ll do this as soon as possible next year.”