Between Christmas and New Year I was contacted by a resident of Heritage Gardens regarding a letter that had been received from Northumberland County Council (NCC) on the subject of removing trees from Gallagher Park that bordered certain streets, namely Newby Close, Cragside Gardens and Stirling Drive. The concern was that the trees are a useful habitat for the endangered red squirrel and encourage the squirrels to come into the garden which this particular resident enjoyed. The letter was dated 24 December 2020 and was asking for responses by 8 January 2021 as work was due to start the following Monday 11 January 2021.
I felt that this wasn’t giving residents enough time to be consulted on their opinions so I wrote to NCC to get this work delayed until a proper consultation had been carried out. Following this, I then wrote and hand delivered letters to all the properties that would be affected in the streets that were mentioned in the letter asking them to contact me with their views.
The Friends of Gallagher Park, of which I am chair, have been trying to help increase the red squirrel population in the park and so this was quite a concern to me also.
I am pleased to say that a considerable number of residents took the time to write to or telephone me with their views and I’d like to thank all those who did so. As with everything there were differing opinions, some wanting the trees removed and those happy to retain them as it encourages the wildlife to visit on a regular basis, and I have passed all of these comments on to NCC.
As a result of highlighting this on social media, I was also contacted by residents of streets in Bedlington Central Ward who had received similar letters from NCC and also had opinions to share; my colleague, Russ Wallace, has similarly taken the matter up with NCC.
All this has culminated in a response from NCC to the effect that the work will not go ahead as had been planned and that a more thorough consultation will be undertaken with a view to listening to residents concerns.
I understand that some work will need to be done as the park does require some form of tree management, but hopefully a compromise can be reached and avoid this “one size fits all “ approach.