GARDENERS have slammed plans to stop replacing dead or damaged street trees as “irresponsible” and “negligent”.

Members of the Wanstead Community Gardeners and Seeds for Snaresbrook campaign were “shocked” when they found plans to stop replacing dead or damaged street trees in Redbridge Council’s budget proposals this month (November 22). 

As part of its budget for next year, the council wants to “halt replacement tree planting on the highway from April 2017".

Although council officers have promised to replace any dead or damaged street trees in the borough up until March, Wanstead Community Gardener Marian Temple is worried for what lies ahead.

Ms Temple set up the Wanstead Community Gardeners 13 years ago and has been guerilla gardening to make it a greener place to live ever since.

She said: “Redbridge as a borough has really poor quality air.

“Street trees are absolutely vital in improving air quality, as well as making it a nicer place to live.

“Having enough street trees is about protecting the health of people in Wanstead now and in the future.

“This is a long term problem, but the council is only thinking short term.

“It’s completely irresponsible of them.”

In response to Ms Temple’s concerns, the council claimed “it will still be planting trees” but the budget proposal in question “allows more flexibility in maintaining green areas in the borough”.

It also said it would look for outside funding from charities like Trees for Cities and the Mayor of London scheme, as well as “supporting groups such as the Wanstead Community Gardeners” to make the borough greener.

But Ms Temple is still worried it will fall on groups like hers to make sure places like Wanstead have enough trees and flowers.

She said: “This is where we live, of course we are going to try to make it a nice place to live.

“But we expect to work in tandem with the council not instead of them.”

Chair of the Wanstead Society and member of the Seeds for Snaresbrook group Scott Wilding is also concerned the lack of replacement trees will mean less wildlife in the area and bad drainage.

He said: “This proposal is a real blow for us as trees cover nearly two kilometres of land in Snaresbrook.

“It will mean less effective drainage, less wildlife, and Wanstead looking more stark and urban.

“Council tax is going up by nearly four per cent, but somehow we are getting less for our money.

"I think it's negligent."

Redbridge Council has been contacted for comment.