'Reckless' vandals fell trees in 'saddening' incident in Hebburn Cemetery - chiefs issue plea for information
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South Tyneside Council is appealing for help from the public after three healthy trees were damaged or chopped down by vandals in Hebburn Cemetery.
The damaged trees, which lined a footpath in the cemetery, included two large trees which were completely removed without consent from the council.
A mature Sycamore tree was also badly damaged, leaving deep cuts in the bark, council chiefs said.
The incident is believed to have happened sometime between 8am on Monday 17 October to 8.35am on Thursday 20 October.
Councillor Ernest Gibson, Lead Member for Transport and Neighbourhoods, said: “We are shocked and saddened to see the trees deliberately destroyed in this way.
“Sadly, the Sycamore tree has been damaged to such an extent that we have had no choice but to remove it this week.
“Whoever is responsible for doing this has gone to some real effort to kill these healthy trees while also endangering themselves, others and posing a risk to the nearby memorials.
“At the end of the day, this is a reckless act of vandalism.
“The matter has been reported to the police and we hope that, with the help of residents and visitors to the cemetery, we can work to identify those responsible for the criminal damage. The council will also be monitoring the site for further activity.”
Cllr Gibson said South Tyneside Council has a team of specialist officers dedicated to all aspects in the management of trees.
This includes regularly assessing them to make sure they are not damaged or threatened with disease and do not cause an unacceptable risk to people and property.
The council was one of the first local authorities locally to produce a comprehensive tree and woodland policy with tree protection and sustainability at its forefront.
A fundamental aspect of the policy is to protect the tree population, with trees removed as a last resort.
Councillor Gibson added: “Trees not only contribute to the beauty and quality of our open spaces but bring a multitude of benefits such as providing a habitat for wildlife and playing an important role in our fight against climate change.
“Our Tree Team officers work exceptionally hard making sure the borough’s trees are healthy and looking their best and they are extremely disappointed by this. I’m sure the vast majority of people who highly value trees will be just as saddened.”
Anyone who has any information about this incident is encouraged to contact Northumbria Police on 101, quoting crime reference number: 123918D/22
People are also urged to report any suspicious activity in any of the Council’s cemeteries to Bereavement Services on (0191) 427 3190.