Friday 16 March 2018

Death of the urban wood dream?

For many years now I have been thinking on the subject of urban woods. I cannot put a date as to when this began, but it is at least seven years. I wrote Wanted: more trees, less tarmac in March 2011.

My initial attempts to get some traction with this locally were met with some derision. Whilst I did not receive a cachinnatious response there were many who questioned my sanity. Nonetheless I persisted.

Eventually my persuasion paid off as my wish for an urban wood made it into the local Labour manifesto. It also appeared, to these eyes anyway, that I was getting a more receptive ear in council meetings. I was certainly raising the subject whenever I could, and my thoughts on this subject were becoming well known.

Eventually my idea for a portable solution seemed to have been put into practise along the London Road.

Fast-forward to the present, and imagine my disappointment when I found out that an urban wood is no longer local Labour Party policy – it has just been dropped from the local manifesto.

For many of us in the broad Labour movement the environment is an important issue.

Being dropped is not an end as far as I am concerned. I shall still campaign for an urban wood in the Borough of Southend-on-Sea.


  1. An interesting idea, Julian, and one with which I would concur. I suspect most of the GP members would support you on this. Have you considered changing your colours? ;)

    More seriously, I don't know how much time you spend in Priory Park. I go there most days with the dog, as I have done since he has been old enough to take for walks. That's nigh on 14 years. In that time, every so often a tree, or a group of trees, disappears, courtesy of Tree Fella. The most tragic case was a massive beech tree that was felled several years ago. It was almost certainly the biggest and most magnificent tree in the borough, but one December day I was taking my usual constitutional and it had men with chain saws swarming all over it. There had been no notice to the public, and I subsequently found that there is a written document somewhere which states that it is Council policy to keep the public informed of tree removals. A council official claimed that it was diseased. I doubt that. I saw the trunk afterwards and it looked completely clean.

    More recently, further trees have been removed with no notice and for no good reason. There are several stumps where there used to be a stand of yew trees to the north side of the priory, at the top of the slope above the lawn to the west of the walled garden. I have photographs I took in 2005 of some goldcrests in those yews and the foliage was so thick that you could not see all the way through. Now it's clear and significant wildlife habitat has been lost.

    I wonder if you could ask a question in the council chamber concerning the tree removal policy, whether the public are still being at least informed over these matters, and the basis on which tree removal decisions are being made.

    By contrast, I provide a link to Il Rogolone, an oak tree so magnificent that the Italians have made it a Natural Monument. This is what we need: far better protection for the trees of the borough, the protection of which is simply down to the whim of officials from the Council, no doubt influenced by Tree Fella, who harvests the wood from any trees felled.


    The link I mentioned in the above post, but forgot to include.


St Luke's Voice Winter 2018/19 edition