RESIDENTS have halted the axing of two long-standing trees in their road after waking up to workmen armed with chainsaws.

For decades two large alder trees have looked over the homes and given "character" to Woodfield Road, Bicester.

But the long-standing trees are now facing the chop after Oxfordshire County Council highways team said they pose a "inherent risk" to houses.

Woodfield resident Bernadette Dunne said: "I saw the tree felling notice, looked to the alders and saw a massive generator parked up.

"They said we are bringing these trees down, I was so shocked."

Neighbour Susan Hall added: "Bernadette came and alerted us that they were cutting them down and we managed to stop them.

"It was actually quite a shocking experience and incredible how anybody would want to cut them down, it was very distressing.

"It just came out of the blue."

The residents say the trees are about 50 years old and have been here since the estate was built.

Mrs Hall added: "Cutting them down doesn't send the message of a Garden Town and what is expected.

"Surely before doing anything so destructive as pulling down these trees they should put out a notice or give people a chance to have their say."

Since halting the tree cutting in January, residents say they have been told that officers could be back as early as April to bring them down.

Oxfordshire County Council said it took the decision after getting complaints of falling debris, damage to the carriageway, footpath and vehicles.

But residents say this particular Alder species, Alnus Cordata, are "the king of street trees".

Oxfordshire County Council spokeswoman Emily Reed said: "There is an inherent risk involved with retaining trees of this size in such close proximity to properties.

"There have also been a number of complaints over a number of years.

"The trees are likely to become bigger and require more regular maintenance. They also have the potential to cause significant damage to property should they fall, which is an increased likelihood due to there being no adjacent screening protecting them from wind and the elements.

“We believe the best option for the long-term maintenance of the area is to remove the two trees and re-plant with a more appropriate species for the area, ideally one with a smaller ultimate height."

The council has not set a date for when further works will take place but said it is in consultation with local councillors.

Residents are hoping to get the decision overturned and community group Bicester Green Gym has agreed to help clear up any debris from the trees to help alleviate complaints.

Member Pam Roberts said: "It is supposed to be a garden town with tree-lined streets and green spaces.

"The trees give the road its character, I never thought the day would come that they cut them down."