A LARGE tree in a Winchester park has been cut back last week, despite an expert reportedly saying it was not necessary.

The beech at Oram’s Arbour was reduced last Friday, leaving local man Tim Montagu and his children very disappointed.

The tree was cut to 10 feet above the fork where a split had occurred after a storm, leaving a 20 foot stump.

On the morning of the tree work, Mr Montagu’s children, Amelia, 10, and Theo, six, hugged it to say goodbye.

Mr Montagu told the Chronicle what a local tree expert had said about the work: “A local tree specialist has stated that a reduction of 50 per cent including the large bough leaning toward the neighbouring house would suffice and still leave the tree the ability to regenerate and survive for decades more.

“This is a case of poor tree management by the council over a number of years. Large trees should be checked and pruned more frequently to prevent large boughs breaking and such excessive measures being needed.”

Similar work has been done in recent days to a beech tree on The Weirs.

A spokesperson from Winchester City Council said: “The beech tree in Orams Arbour has been monitored closely over the last year and works were identified and planned for this winter. However, due to the recent storm, the work has had to be brought forward as it became urgent, these works were completed last week.

“A contractor undertook the significant crown reduction to ensure the tree posed little risk to the public, while ensuring the protection of wildlife. Sadly, this has meant that only the main stem remains with some branches, there is no canopy. It was important that more than 50% was trimmed for safety, and anything less would have almost certainly led to the tree's death.

“It is unlikely the canopy will come back. However, the tree will remain as an important landscape and biodiversity feature and will continue to be monitored as part of our survey programme. We are also going to continue looking at replacement tree planting across the whole Arbour as and when appropriate.”