[Announce] Alexandra Gardens trees to be cut

John Lawton john at lawton.me.uk
Fri Mar 27 09:27:36 GMT 2015

Dear All,

the AGTG http://www.alexandragardens.org.uk/ have fought a valiant fight 
to save the trees, but there is bad news from them about the recent 
legal fight, see below. They deserve our support.

We are disgusted to see such a wanton act of political cowardice from 
the the Labour Council in forcing through these cuts in the face of 
pressure from big business insurance rather than spending resources in 
defending and preserving our green spaces as we would expect them to do.

It is our view that as a result they have lost all credibility in 
preserving our precious public assets.

Councillor O'Reilly stated at the time that she entered politics that 
she did so to preserve these trees. It is regrettable that her political 
career has so soon encountered such a fundamental failure.

John Lawton
SOS Chair

Here is Andy's recent message:

AGTG group update	26/3/15

Dear Supporters

Thank you so much for your donations, pledges and advice over the past 
week. I am sorry we may not have replied to all, but all were received 

The sad news regarding the Alpha Road trees is that we have lost the 
case and they will be cut severely - probably tomorrow (Friday) or 
Saturday or Monday at the latest. There is no further legal redress we 
can seek. So it is the end of the road for these five trees in their 
pristine state, as Carina O’Reilly proclaimed back in January.

I spent today in the Appeal Court with our lawyer - Richard Buxton - and 
the barrister who was representing us. Simon Pugh, CCC’s Legal Officer, 
was also present throughout. It was a dispiriting experience, but at 
least we know that we took it as far as possible.

I won’t go into the full detail of the case because (a) it would take 
too long, (b) I would probably hideously misrepresent the whole thing 
and (c) I can’t face it now. We will send the transcript on when it 
becomes available.

The very very brief summary is that McCombe agreed with Mittings, the 
High Court judge who heard our original application to apply for 
Judicial Review. Today’s hearing was almost all about legal procedure; 
no real facts were discussed. It was eventually decided as a balance of 
probabilities of risk, couched in high Legalese. I’m assured - by the 
barrister - that the higher you climb the “tree” (sorry - his metaphor) 
of the system, the more precise the argument becomes - you get trapped 
on one particular “branch”. And so it was here in the rarified Appeal 
Court.  But still, essentially the decision boiled down to the 
“nuisance” of damage to buildings vs. the loss of public amenity. It is 
obvious that private nuisance wins that argument in English law. No 
factual discussions of root trespass, evidence or anything so tangible 
were entertained. As it turned out, the “branch” we were trapped on was 
our assertion that the consultation had been poor. Even if we had won 
the case on that ground, it would likely have been a Pyrrhic victory as 
I heard Pugh say today that in that case he would have simply 
re-consulted more rigorously in September. We would have had no defence 
against that.

We have no way of knowing if any of you are interested enough to keep 
pressurising the Council if they - as we expect they will - decide to 
prune the other trees along that avenue because their insurers - Zurich 
- may insist they do as a precautionary measure. We would like to think 
you are still keen, although we would understand if you’ve had enough.

Perhaps more importantly - and more ambitiously - we hope that some of 
you might be interested in using the momentum we’ve gained to raise 
awareness of this nationwide problem of the loss of large park trees 
because of aggressive insurance companies and compliant councils. It is 
time that trees are seen as a public asset rather than being associated 
in law with “nuisance”. Richard Buxton is certainly keen to keep the 
momentum going, calling what councils are doing “environmental 
vandalism”, done only because they have no will to think around the 

But that’s for later. I don't have the energy to think about that at the 
moment  Now it’s time for a short break. Thanks once again for your 
generous support.


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