Coffee, croissants and civil disobedience: residents stage breakfast protest to protect Cambridge trees

Chesterton residents were shocked this week when the Labour City Council announced 8am tree works at 5.30pm the night before, which would have seen trees on Alexandra Gardens irreparably cut back and lose 70% of their canopy.  However, the works were halted on Tuesday when residents staged a breakfast protest underneath the affected trees. More people joined the protest on Wednesday morning.

The consultation on this work had only closed one-week earlier and had received multiple objections from local residents.  The Council extended the deadline on the consultation in order to ensure that residents had a chance to respond, but critics note that they have not presented or consulted on the full range of options available to them. 

Jamie Dalzell, Lib Dem Councillor for West Chesterton, who was on site on Tuesday and Wednesday morning said: 

"There is a range of other options that could be explored, including root barriers.  Under the Labour administration, none of these other options seem to have been fully considered, and they were racing ahead to complete the work before contractual deadlines at the end of July. It is no wonder that residents increasingly feel this was a fait accompli.

"This week's rushed decision rests on a valuation of the amenity based on just the two trees to be pollarded, whereas the financial risk to the Council could be very different if they were to consider the amenity value of the whole avenue.  This was exactly what happened under the previous Liberal Democrat administration and residents are understandably confused as to why it’s not happening now.

"Now that protests stopped work this week and deadlines cannot be met, the Council does have an opportunity to analyse other options in more detail and restore public trust in this process.  As a first step, it is vital that the Labour Executive Councillor Alex Collis, speaks to and engages with residents, and follows through on her promise made at full Council last week to meet with me and other ward Councillors."

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