A LEADING councillor has slammed the city council for "double standards" over the felling of trees in a cemetery.

Three conifer trees were recently taken down at St Johns Cemetery to increase the number of burial spaces available by 25.

Cllr Alan Amos, Worcester city and Worcestershire county councillor for Bedwardine, has criticised the council for removing the trees saying many residents are refused permission to do so.

He has accused the council of having "double standards" after "invariably refusing permission for residents to do the same".

Cllr Amos said: "The sheer hypocrisy of giving themselves permission for this vandalism, whilst denying so many residents the right to prune or remove trees that are causing them concern or damage to their properties, is breathtaking.

"There was no proper consultation with people on the 'westside' nor with the council’s own cemetery and crematorium forum, for whom this place is much revered.

"It was done swiftly and secretly so as to prevent any objections."

Cllr Amos has claimed that the atmosphere of the cemetery has been ruined by the chopping down of the three trees.

He said: "The wanton destruction of these beautiful healthy trees has permanently ruined the atmosphere and outlook in the cemetery, a place where people often like to sit in a calm and attractive surrounding.

"There is plenty of room for more graves throughout the cemetery and a lot of space available elsewhere in the grounds so this vandalism was completely unnecessary,  spiteful, insensitive, and underhand.

"Again, it shows that this council does not care what local people think because 'it knows best'."

Cllr Karen Lewing, chair of Worcester City Council’s Environment Committee, said the "burial life" of the site will be extended by from 2.5 years to 5.5 years after the trees were removed.

She said: “This will ensure that the west side of the city will continue to have an active burial ground while further investigations are carried out to see how to further extend the burial life of the site. 

“The trees were non-indigenous and of low biodiversity value, and as these were council trees on council land and were not covered by any tree preservation order, no approval or permission was required to remove them. 

“Council officers did consult with the council’s tree officer, ward councillors and lead members before carrying out the work, which was part of a programme of improvements at the site which has included resurfacing, new signage and general repair work as well as improving the biodiversity of the site.”