Chris Whtye, representing Brent Council, confessed that tonight's meeting outside Furness Primary School in Furness Road about the removal of 11 trees, was much bigger than he had anticipated. He was given the unenviable task of both giving the Council's case and responding to questions. Brent Council leader Cllr Muhammed Butt and Lead member for the Environment, stayed silent for the first part of the meeting, leaving Officers to take the brunt of the crowd's passionate criticism of Council policy on removing trees and asphalting of walkways.
Eleven trees were to be removed from Furness Road and Chris told the crowd that five would now stay after review, three would be removed because they were diseased, dead or dying and three would be removed because contractors could find no way of laying the new footway around them.
This did not satisfy the protesters and nor did a further concession that the trees would be replaced by semi-mature plantings rather than saplings. They pointed out the widely different contribution to reducing air pollution made by different sizes of trees and the carbon cost of fossil fuel based asphalt compared with replacing cracked paving. Officers pointed out their duty to protect pedestrians from tripping hazards and falling branches.
The Council were reminded of the battle over asphalting in Chandos Road and the removing of very old specimen trees in Old Paddington Cemetery.
Cllr Butt, Leader of Brent Council, responds
The meeting did not so much conclude as tail off in a series of arguments with Muhammed Butt furious in certain exchanges. However a cool intervention by Cllr Jumbo Chan won a promise of a properly chaired meeting of residents and the Council in early-January.
It was hard to be absolutely certain in the chaos but I believe the Council undertook to carry out no work in Furness Road until the meeting has taken place.