4:10pm Friday 5th April 2013
By Will Bain
PONTYPOOL community councillors have attacked the decision to chop down 24 trees in Pontypool Park to make room for an orchard.
But the Friends of Pontypool Park (FPP) have said there was ample time and opportunity for councillors to find out about the scheme and that they simply had not done so.
As we reported last week, FPP made the decision to plant a pick-yourown fruit orchard in the park at the expense of the coppice of mature trees.
It sparked anger among some park users and last week, Pontypool community councillors spoke out too, with Cllr Mark Ford calling it “vandalism of the highest order”.
Torfaen councillor for Abersychan Giles Davies said: “No one on the community council knew about what was happening before it happened and we should have been consulted.
“It is the people’s park, not the Friends of Pontypool Park’s. There was more than enough space to put an orchard in other parts of the park. It is one of the worst cases of vandalism I have seen in the park.”
Cllr Ford agreed saying: “It is vandalism of the highest order.”
But Don Marsh, chairman of FPP robustly defended the orchard.
“The idea was brought to us by the council, he said. “Anyone could have attended those meetings.
Our meetings are well advertised and open to anyone who would like to come along.Weare trying to get all types of trees growing in the park again.
“There are not many edible plants in there to attract wildlife and insects and we hope this will do that. I also think the trees which were cut down were too tall anyway and they cause the tennis courts to be in shade, which I’m not sure people liked either.
“I really think these councillors should have investigated further before making comments.”
The 24 trees, mostly conifers, are to be replaced with fruit trees including apples, pears, damsons, plums, and cherries.
The project was funded by Torfaen council, but FPP was consulted on the idea and will plant and maintain the orchard.
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