IT was a fight to save trees on a street near the JR which saw neighbours come out in their droves with banners and megaphones, despite the lockdown.

Now the residents of Headley Way, Headington, appear to have come to an understanding with officials over the future of foliage on their street.

Last April, residents of the street woke up to discover that contractors in the pay of Oxfordshire County Council were cutting down mature trees either side of the road.

The workers, from a company owned by Oxford City Council called ODS, said the roots of the trees had been damaged by earlier works to improve the roads.

But neighbours along Headley Way were horrified by the sight of leafy trees along their road getting the chop.

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A protest movement, entitled Talking Trees, was set up, demanding that staff from the two councils speak to them before any other work was carried out in the future.

And in May 2020, they held a socially-distanced demonstration calling for dialogue with the council on a tree replanting programme.

Now, those meetings have been held, and while 11 trees originally cut down last year have not yet been replaced, a further 10 cut down this February will be.

A press release from the city council published last week announced proudly that ‘Headley Way residents have all received a letter explaining the process and the trees to be felled have each been identified with clear and apparent notices’.

Headley Way residents have held a socially distanced protest because they want to protect trees on their road from being felled..27/05/2020.Picture by Ed Nix.

Headley Way residents have held a socially distanced protest because they want to protect trees on their road from being felled..27/05/2020.Picture by Ed Nix.

In the place of the 10 trees felled this month, a further 11 will be planted, after discussion between residents and the two councils.

Nigel Chapman, Oxford City Council’s cabinet member for customer focused services, who holds responsibility for ODS, added: “It is important to replace trees that have to be removed. The trees to be felled present a real risk to the safety of all those in Headley Way. Through consultation and cooperation, the area will now benefit from 11 healthy new trees when the existing 10 are felled to prevent risk to public health.”

And residents of the road from the Talking Trees group are now content with this plan, and have agreed to take on the role of stewards for the new saplings, due to be planted this spring.

Cathy O’Neill, one of the Headley Way residents involved in the group, said: “This will encourage people on the street to think about our trees and keep them going in the early years when they could potentially die quite easily.”

She added the group did not see this as the end of their work, and planned for Talking Trees to now be an ongoing project.

Ms O’Neill said: “I am going to push for more planting year on year. This is a living thing and it is going to grow as we have a phased planting schedule in the future.

“That way, as some people move out of the street, and others move in, they can be involved in looking after new trees as well.”

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Roz Smith, the councillor whose ward covers Headley Way, said the result of a poor situation which led to the loss of trees had been a ‘win-win’ which meant the council was now communicating about what kinds of species of trees were planted on the street.

Ms Smith said she though people had become more defensive of trees around them as a result of a growing awareness of the climate crisis.

She said: “I think people are becoming more aware about trees, yes. We have not got a planet B – there is only one chance.

“And while there is a vaccine for Covid, there isn’t one for climate change, all we can do is respond positively with action like this.”