AN environmental campaigner has called for a halt to the 'unnecessary' felling of trees in a Wirral park.

Diane Johnson described the cutting down of a heritage Beech tree in the lower area of Ashton Park in West Kirby, one of 43 trees requiring urgent safety work following an inspection this week, as 'ill-advised vandalism'.

The work includes felling a small number of mature and semi-mature trees which, according to the inspection, were beyond treatment and could pose a danger to the public.

Most of these are near the play area.

The inspection also revealed the affected trees are dead or in an advanced state of decline.

Where possible, they will be retained and only dead wood removed to ensure they are safe. If replacement trees are needed these will be sourced once work is completed.

Mrs Johnson told the Globe: "The felling of the Beech tree, which incidentally, was covered by a Tree Protection Order, was totally unnecessary.

"It is, probably, one of the oldest in the park and perfectly robust.

"The tree was diagnosed with fungus, which co-exists with the tree, it is a symbiotic thing. The fungus lives off the tree and vice-versa.

"If these tree surveyors can find any reason at all to cut a tree down, they will.

"They're taking away our heritage. Nobody can replace this 150-year-old tree.

"Healthwise, we all benefit from this tree. The oxygen coming from this park to the surrounding area is invaluable and to just treat trees like this is awful.

"It just sends out the wrong message and is an absolute crying shame.

"I have heard that the Friends of Ashton Park have reserved the option to carve the stump of this now-felled tree.

"Instead, I request that it be allowed to regrow if it can recover in any way, as it has a perfectly healthy rootstock.

"The dead fungus at the base of the tree is by no means vigorous and is simply a past fruiting body of the symbiotic fungus which is essential to the health of the tree."

Appealing to Wirral Council, Mrs Johnson continued: "Please stop any further tree felling in Ashton Park, which may have been advised by the tree assessor that was involved in the tragic misdiagnosis of this tree.

"Tax payers money is being used to take away things that are enriching our environment, and I object this.

"Wirral Council needs to stop funding this vandalism."

In response, cabinet member for leisure and recreation, Cllr Phillip Brightmore, told the Globe: "No one wants to see tress, especially mature trees such as these, felled.

"But an examination of them by tree specialists has revealed they would be a danger to the public, including the many families with young children who use the play area and it is vital that action is taken.

"Safety of the public must be paramount."