ACTIVISTS have set up a group to speak out about what they feel is a heavy-handed treatment of the borough's trees - with the slogan 'No decapitation with consultation'.
Ten residents established the Harrow Tree Protection Campaign in reaction to concerns about Harrow Council's contract with horticultural firm Gristwood and Toms, which earned in excess of £675,000 from the authority in the last financial year . They question its 'standard of work' and whether it complies with wildlife preservation legislation.
Co-founder Jessica Lawrence, of Butler Road, West Harrow, said: "People need to be consulted before work of this nature is carried out and changes the character and appearance of whole neighbourhoods. They have a right to expect the highest standard of work and care and this is not evidenced by the results."
Ms Lawrence maligned what she regards as a zealousness in pruning trees.
She said: "Gristwood and Toms decide which trees get cut down and has been contracted to provide a survey of at least 25,000 trees."
She said it was much more commercially valuable for a tree to be cut down than for treatment to be applied.
"My street looks apocalyptic - and this is without consultation."
Harrow Council's corporate director of community and environment, Brendon Hills, said: "Gristwood and Toms prune all council trees, remove dead and dangerous trees and carry out planting and maintenance as instructed by us.
"This contract was awarded after a competitive tender and is rigorously monitored to ensure we get value for money, and is based on a schedule of rates for different work."
He said all proposed work is checked and approved by council officers before it starts and random checks ensure jobs are completed to our standards.
Mr Hills added: "Gristwood and Toms also won a separate tender to survey Harrow's tree stock to check health and deal with any safety issues. The information gathered is also used to manage the tree stock."
Andy Toms, managing director of Gristwood and Toms, said: "I know we do a good job in Harrow. The contract was published in OJEU [Official Journal of the European Union] and we happened to be successful, based on a combination of quality and price; the schedule of rates is published with 300 others.
"We did do a tree condition survey. There was no recommendation of work and it was carried out at arms' length. We didn't have any say whatsoever in which work is actually carried out, so there is no conflict of interest.
"Pollarding is really common on forest-type trees on clay soils."
* Contact Harrow Tree Protection Campaign via email@example.com.