Almost 30 newly-planted trees have been hacked down in a “clinical execution” in Newcastle.

City leaders have been left horrified after the act of vandalism at the Forsyth Road playing fields in Jesmond.

The damage was discovered last week by the Freemen of Newcastle, who manage the playing fields and the neighbouring Town Moor, and is now the subject of a police investigation.The Northern Echo:

It is expected to cost around £15,000 to replace the 29 destroyed trees, which were partially chopped down on the night of Wednesday, March 29.

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City councillor Ged Bell told colleagues at a meeting on Tuesday that he was at a planting ceremony for the trees recently, where a member of the public turned up threatening to chop them down with an axe.

The Labour councillor said at a meeting of the Town Moor Joint Working Group: “I am absolutely appalled at this action that has been taken, and I am not saying it was a resident. But it has caused very serious damage to the new trees planted and destroyed them. They would have made the place much better for future generations, but for some reason someone does not want that to happen.”

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Nick Atkinson, vice chair of the Freemen of Newcastle’s stewards committee, reported that there was no debris left at the site – suggesting that it was a targeted action, rather than a random act of vandalism.

He added: “This was a clinical execution where the tops of the trees had been cut off at the height of the guards that had been put around them. I am mortified, it is absolutely horrific.”

Lesley Storey, the city council’s cabinet member responsible for community safety, called the incident “absolutely disgraceful”.

David Wilson, chair of the Freemen, vowed that the incident would not derail tree planting efforts around the Town Moor, which is part of the multi-million pound plans to create a North East Community Forest.

Mr Wilson said: “Of course this is a setback, but we won’t allow that to interfere with our programme of tree planting to mitigate climate change and provide a beneficial environment for all of the city’s residents. We will, in due course, be sorting out the problem with these particular trees and continuing with our programme.

The Northern Echo:

They will be supplemented or replaced.”  Letters are due to be sent out to neighbouring properties in Highbury asking any witnesses to come forward with information about the attack.

A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “Shortly before 8pm on Friday, March 31, police received a report of criminal damage on Forsyth Road in Jesmond. The incident is believed to have taken place overnight between March 29 and March 30.

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The Northern Echo:

“It was reported that approximately 25 freshly planted trees were cut down and then removed, causing irreversible damage.

“Enquiries are ongoing. Anyone with information should contact police using the ‘Tell Us Something’ page of our website or by calling 101 quoting crime reference 040196B/23.”