Oxford City Council has ended the debate about the 200-year-old Magdalen Plane tree by chopping it down and you backed the decision, devoting three out of 123 words to the public outcry (Oxford Mail, August 24).

It had to go because it had some fungus in some of its branches. It's the oldest excuse in the book for the removal of perfectly healthy trees. Fungus in a tree does not mean it is unhealthy or dangerous. If that were so, every tree more than 50 years old would have to be destroyed.

Any tree more than 40 or 50 years old will have fungus living in it. Trees and fungi have a symbiotic relationship hardly ever resulting in terminal problems for the tree. The heartwood of a mature tree is already dead and contributes little or nothing to the strength of limb or trunk.

The Magdalen Plane has been killed and removed for other reasons. Road widening? Wood chippings for the gardens of some favoured persons? Prime lumber for sale? Some city council plan, of which we have yet to hear? No doubt something will come to light in time.

What worries me more is the total lack of public consultation or accountability. The council stifled debate before it had hardly begun, by presenting us with a fait accompli.

It trots out excuses and, ignoring any opinion to the contrary, goes ahead and rips out another vital and beautiful part of our city.

It will be a long time before the replacement tulip tree will provide anything like the amount of shade and oxygen that a pollarded plane would have done, to say nothing of visual and spiritual amenity.

We need our mature trees more than ever and the answer, for any deemed to be getting too big, is pollarding. Pollarding the remaining planes in Magdalen churchyard should begin before they get too big and a 'danger to the public'.

How patronising for the city council spokesman to say: "If we pollarded it, it would have continued to decay and look ugly."

Are our nameless councillors now arbiters of beauty as well as the condition of our environment and the amount of oxygen we are allowed to breathe?

Where next? The plane trees along St Giles are practically as big. How long before we are told they have fungus and have to be removed? What about the magnificent trees in Wellington Square and Bonn Square? How long can they be expected to survive before our so-called tree officers decide we need saving from them?

Who are these nameless tree officers? We should be told. ALAN MYNALL, Willow Way, Radley