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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 September, 2004, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Fury at lopped down conker trees
Trimmed conker tree
One of the 'trimmed trees' outside Ashley Primary School
A council has provoked anger over plans to fell 25-year-old conker trees to stop children hurting themselves.

South Tyneside Council has already lopped off parts of the six horse chestnut trees after a boy fell from a branch trying to reach conkers.

Now it plans to replace the 30ft trees in Temple Park Road, South Shields, with a different species to make the area safer.

Headteacher at nearby Ashley Primary School, Phil Grice, condemned the move.

He said: "Six beautiful trees now look like skeletons and frankly it appals me.

"Initially I understood the concerns over health and safety, but this is just common sense gone out the window.

"This has happened because we live in such a blame culture and people are afraid of being sued if someone gets injured."

Jim Stelling, lollipop man
Jim Stelling said only the conkers should have been removed
Council workers trimmed the trees after reports that children were throwing stones and sticks at the branches.

The council claimed it posed a danger to passing motorists.

Cllr John Wood, the Mayor of South Tyneside said: "Obviously I realise they look quite bad the way they have been cut, but it's a health and safety measure.

"This is a very busy road and we've had children throwing missiles up into the trees and some have hit cars. The police have been called several times and they can't be here 24 hours.

"There are conker trees all over the borough and we plant nearly 2,000 trees every year. Unfortunately these trees were put in at a time when the roads weren't as busy as they are now."

Jenny and Lyndsey Maddison
Lyndsey Maddison said the work was for the sake of the children
Jim Stelling, a lollipop man working outside the school, said: "Why not take all the conkers off and leave the trees? I'm really annoyed about it."

And Lyndsey Maddison, whose daughter Jenny attends the school, said: "I suppose it's right for safety reasons. If children were running out into the road to pick up conkers, it makes sense to prevent that happening.

"But I don't understand why they had to cut the trees to such an extent."



Conker trees saved from axe
03 Jul 01  |  UK News
Conker trees face the chop
14 Jun 01  |  UK News

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