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‘The lung of South End Green’: Paint protest over trees cut down in Hampstead

Horse chestnut removed after storm damage

25 January, 2018 — By Helen Chapman

Sawn stumps have been painted by Bryn Jones

AN ARTIST has staged his own protest by painting on the stumps of trees chopped down in Hampstead.

Bryn Jones said he hoped to draw attention to the removal of a horse chestnut in South End Green by daubing the sawn trunk with red and pink paint. The tree lost a branch in stormy weather on January 3 and was cut down later that day.

“It did a little damage. Nothing more than you’d expect after a branch falling down,” said Mr Jones. “Within an hour they sent a squad in who chopped the whole damn tree, leaving just a stump. “I’ve made a protest and a little memorial for the tree. I want to make a serious issue out of this – whoever’s doing it is getting away with it. It was the largest tree on the Green. It was the lung, if you like, of South End Green.”

He added: “I’m very much a tree fan. If we don’t do something soon they will chop the other trees down across the road. These people have no conscience. They will probably say it was diseased but this is not a new phenomenon or something that trees can’t survive.”

The tree which has been removed

A lime tree in Elm Terrace, on the south of the Green, was chopped down the same day.

David Kitchen, from South End Green Association committee, said: “It is a hell of a shame. The horse chestnut was a wonderful big tree. Over the years a succession of trees have been lost. If the tree is rotten, the council would double-check that before removing it. Their hearts are in the right place. “It is difficult to take a stump out of concrete. I imagine the stump will be left where it is. What will they replace the horse chestnut with and where?”

Mr Jones’s paint work

He added: “Tradition­ally, South End Green was traced with elms. George Orwell, who lived there, wrote about the elm trees. What we want to know is: can they put an elm in to replace it?”

A council spokesman said: “The horse chestnut has a history of being infected by basal decay fungi. There have been concerns about the safety of the crown, with pockets of decay within several large limbs. Due to the defects in the tree and the damage sustained from high winds, Camden Council felt it was necessary to have the tree removed for public safety and instructed the tree contractor to carry out the removal work.”

The spokesman added: “Public safety is a particular concern in this area, with the bus terminus, a busy road, high pedestrian footfall, the Garden Gate public house and access to the adjacent council estate.”

The council said the lime tree was also in decay. It would replace both trees.

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