Trees at care home prepared for chop

A ‘SHOCKING’ act to kill off all the trees at a condemned Clevedon care home has caused uproar in the town.

About 25 large and medium-sized trees at Cherry Orchard Residential Home have had eight or nine inches of bark scraped off the circumference of their trunks.

Known as ring-barking or girdling, the treatment results in the tissue above the affected area dying off and the trees having to be felled.

Last month, Shaw Healthcare announced it will shut the Cherry Avenue home in November, giving residents just two months to find somewhere new to live.

The company said it was closing the facility because more people are opting to stay at home. However, some relatives of the 23 residents affected have said they believe the main reason is so the site can be redeveloped for housing.

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Before the trees, including poplar, ash and maple, were ring-barked, North Somerset Council was preparing a tree preservation order (TPO) to prevent them from being pruned or cut down without the authority’s permission. If the TPO had been in place when the ring-barking took place, it would have been a criminal offence.

A relative of one of the residents at the home said: “They were quite happy to do this when the residents are still living there. It is shocking.

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“They could’ve waited – it is there home. The residents have got to be moved, which is shocking enough. For a company that is meant to be in the care profession, it is not very caring.”

North Somerset Council is now powerless to do anything about the ring-barking but a spokesman said: “Our natural environment team will be commenting on future planning applications for the site and we will press for the best possible tree planting to mitigate for the loss.”

A statement from Shaw Healthcare said: “We are working with Cherry Orchard’s residents, their families and North Somerset Council to find alternative accommodation and appropriate care for existing residents.

“We did explore all options to keep the home open. However, the facilities do not meet our high standards and due to the constraints on developing the existing building to meet these standards as well as the needs of residents, coupled with a decline in demand for residential care, this has just not been possible.

“The future of the site is yet to be determined. There is not a tree preservation order on the site and we were not made aware of any plans to place one.”

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