Kids say ‘save our tree’

Teachers, pupil and parents at Holywell Green Primary School, campaign to save their tree.
Teachers, pupil and parents at Holywell Green Primary School, campaign to save their tree.

Primary school pupils are campaigning to save a mature sycamore tree that has stood in their playground for nearly seven decades.

The tree has stood in the playground of Holywell Green Primary for more than 65 years, but may soon have to come down following Calderdale Council’s decision to fell it.

Staff, parents and pupils from the school joined together for an environmental day to say ‘save our tree’ and plant new trees and shrubs.

Paul McVeigh, headteacher at the school, said: “Our environment is important for the future generations of children that will live and learn in Holywell Green, and it should be protected and not destroyed.

“The school’s own grounds maintenance contractor and the council’s senior tree officer have over the years assessed the tree and declared that the tree is healthy and not dangerous.

“Yet the council is still intent on felling this tree despite the opposition of the school and the community. This will cost a significant amount of money that will come from council tax and could far better spent on other issues in the community.”

But Judith Ackroyd, whose elderly father lives in a nearby property, said the tree causes difficulties such as leaves falling and blocking guttering, the ground becoming slippery from sap and roots from the tree edging closer to the foundations of the property.

She said the situation has been ongoing for a number of years during which her family has been calling on the council to take action to improve the situation.

“This issue has been going on for more than seven years. Mr McVeigh has not and will not communicate with anyone who wishes to try and discuss this issue with him to try and find an amicable solution,” she said.

“The heavy foliage it drops in autumn stops flora from growing in it shade, blocks guttering, the ground becomes slippy from sap and the roots are raised all over the residents gardens. These are now coming closer to the foundations of the property.

“Any ‘open door’ policy the school may have is firmly shut when trying to discuss this matter.

“For him to start to complain to stop the felling of the tree by using the children as a front is nothing more than a cheap shot.”

In response to the decision, Judith Wyllie, Calderdale Council’s Head of Commissioning and Partnerships, said: “In July this year we received a complaint from a local resident who was concerned about the sycamore tree in the grounds of Holywell Green Primary School.

“We informed the school and arranged for the health and safety team and a tree specialist to visit the site.

“After considering the options available, and taking legal advice, it was decided that the tree should be felled.

“Removing a tree is not something we take lightly. Unfortunately this tree could potentially cause a number of problems, but we’re ensuring that a young tree is planted in place of the old sycamore.”