Craig and Anne have been responding to concerns from the community over the potential impact which the council's Streets Ahead programme could have on trees planted as a memorial in Crookes.
"We knew this memorial is very special to local people, and we wanted to ensure that any proposals reflected the special status the trees have. Many residents contacted us deeply worried that the initial proposal was for 23 to be replaced," explained Craig.
Craig, alongside Anne- who worked with former councillor Geoff Smith to save one Western Road tree in 2015, have been working very hard on this issue:
"I've done three 2 hour 'Tree Walks' inspecting every tree, knocked on every door, spoken to 60% of the houses, and done a printed survey. I spoke in the Full Council meeting in December about the significance and history of these trees," said Craig "We wanted to make sure residents reponded to the council's household survey, so that a second opinion could be obtained from the Independent Tree Panel."
Photo: Memorial inscription on the wall of Westways School on western Road, where Labour Councillors Craig Gamble Pugh and Anne Murphy have secured a range of actions.
The results of the survey were released at the end of December, and Western Road will be scrutinised by the Tree Panel. "This was a relief, the Panel can suggest the council considers taking various steps to retain trees.
"I got in touch with the War Memorials Trust, who agreed to work with the council on this. They invited a funding bid, and because I have experience in bid writing, I agreed to write a proposal on behalf of the community. I've also been supporting local residents who want to set up a Community Memorial Group. The British Legion have said that, once work is complete, they will work with me to organise a ceremony to rededicate the memorial."
At the January meeting of the Full Council, Council Leader Julie Dore and Cabinet Member Bryan Lodge announced a raft of additional steps to ensure that every option can be considered. Steps include:
- council contractor Amey has been ordered to do detailed work on site to consider if there are solutions which could retain some of the 23 trees, and produce revised proposals
- a Working Party will be set up to review how Streets Ahead work affecting war memorials is done
- a multidisciplinary group of council officers and experts will consider the revised proposals of Amey and the Tree Panel
- there will then be further public consultation on the final proposals
"I am delighted that we have been able to get some progress on this issue, and while we cannot yet promise whether any of those 23 trees can be saved, I believe there is a genuine intention to do everything possible." said Craig