Campaigners have hit out at the “diabolical” removal of a tree planted to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
The 12ft Queen Elizabeth Maple tree was planted in 2012 in honour of the historic occasion.
Hyndburn council uprooted the tree from Parker Street Corner last week and moved it to Ladybird Garden on Chapel Street. Bosses say they wanted to save the tree because the site, subject to plans for a 75-home development, is due to pass out of public ownership.
Campaigners from the newly formed Rishton Community Association say the tree was removed without their knowledge last week, and say it happened just two days after an application was made for a tree preservation order.
Mum-of-two Katherine Jewell, of Talbot Street, said: “I applied for the preservation order on the Monday, it was received on the Tuesday, then on the Wednesday the tree was removed. I walked past the tree last Wednesday around 1.50pm and it was there but at 5.15pm it had gone. It’s now in Ladybird Garden and we don’t know why.
“I feel quite angry about it. People here feel a lot of ownership about this tree. I’m not a big monarchist but it’s something we can be proud of.”
Coun Peter Britcliffe, who was Conservative leader when the Queen visited Accrington in her Jubilee year, said: “To remove a tree planted on a historic occasion, you need to consult residents about it.
“A Jubilee tree is a big thing and just to move it overnight is absolutely diabolical.
“A Jubilee tree is the sort of thing people respect and treasure and I don’t think her Majesty would be all that chuffed if she found out what happened.”
Coun Ken Moss, Hyndburn council’s cabinet member for parks, said: “It’s pure coincidence the tree protection order was applied for two days before the tree was moved.
“Within a year the land the tree was on will not be council land so we moved it to ensure it survives as it’s an important tree for Rishton.”
Residents have applied for Parker Street Corner to become an ‘asset of community value’ following plans by Gleeson Homes to build 75 homes on the former Gaskell Carpets factory site, off Parker Street.
A decision on the application is due to be made later in the year.