Lib Dems attack loss of Islington street trees

Almost 100 trees are set to be felled across Islington next month, with no guarantee that any of them will be replaced.

Throughout October the trees, all of which are dead, dying or diseased, will be chopped down in Barnsbury, Canonbury, Highbury, Stroud Green, Hornsey Rise and Islington and the stumps will be pulled out in January.

Although the borough has the greatest density of street trees, it also has the least green space per person in London and the council is coming under fire for not having a planting plan in place.

Normally, the town hall promises to replace felled trees, but it says financial constraints might make that impossible this year.

Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of Islington’s opposition Liberal Democrat group, said: “It is unacceptable for the council to go against its own policy and not replace the trees it removes on cash grounds, especially when the council had �8million of its budget spare last year. Street trees have a particularly important role in Islington because of the small number of open spaces and parks.

‘‘The former Lib Dem administration increased the number of trees and planted 300 every year.”

Caroline Russell, of Islington Green Party, said: “Trees contribute to health and well-being and they absorb pollution, which impacts on the poorest members of our community. Replacing them with young trees needn’t be all that expensive. The council should think of the future generations.”

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Cllr Paul Smith, executive member for the environment, said: “We like trees, they are important, but these are tough times and people come first.

“For us, to cut some trees down and not replace them straight away is not in the same league as people not having somewhere to live.”

He added: “We are facing �335million in cuts and to complain about trees is frivolous.”