A FUNERAL took place over the weekend in protest against the council's plans to cut down trees and remove a historic wall.

On Saturday, concerned residents, community groups and councillors met to mark the memory of 23 trees ahead of Merton's plans to start work on Bishopsford Road Bridge.

The gathering comes after plans for the bridge design were given the go-ahead at Merton Council’s Planning Committee meeting on October 22.

But, despite being given the green light, a total of 16 community groups and residents have opposed the new design.

Campaigners say that the bridge is meant to be protected for the residents of Merton and will affect residents with noise and traffic fumes.

They went on to say that demolishing the historic wall would expose the park.

Concerns have also been raised about how bats, kingfishers, owls, thrushes and waterfowl would respond to their home being disturbed. 

A spokesperson for campaigners, Daniel Goode said: "Residents and 16 local groups have all asked for this scheme to be scrutinised – but the council has chosen to ignore all of it.

Hence residents coming together in pouring rain and gales to express their deep dismay at a council that has declared a climate emergency, but which is simultaneously felling mature trees and building on green space at an alarming rate throughout Merton.

"This cannot go on if we are to combat climate change, keep green spaces for future generations and also increase tree canopy by 10% as demanded by the London Mayor.

Wimbledon Times:

Paul Gapper

He added: "Merton Council says it has consulted with residents, but it chose the scheme residents didn’t want.

"It says it is fulfilling a goal of including active travel, but the plans proposed do not meet government guidelines.

It says it is committed to supporting the environment, but it chops down trees and steals land that should be cherished, not tarmacked."

One resident said: "We are desperate to get our new bridge. We have suffered without it for over 18 months and the impact on our community is awful.

"However, we cannot support the present proposal.

"It is flawed and ill-conceived and totally flies in the face of council's declared commitment to climate change emergency with the axing down of this beautiful stand of trees."

Wimbledon Times:

Paul Gapper

Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Housing and Transport, Councillor Martin Whelton, said: “We know many residents and businesses have been impacted by the closure of the bridge.

"We will continue to work closely with the community as construction gets underway so that this vital crossing can be reopened at the earliest opportunity.

“In a public consultation, held in the spring, residents told us they wanted the new bridge to include improved cycling infrastructure.

"This has been included in the design of the new bridge, which will be wider than the previous bridge, with a dedicated cycle lane on one side, plus a shared cycle lane and pavement on the other side, to encourage people to make more journeys by bike.

To achieve this, some trees will need to be removed, however, half of these are either dead or decaying and we will be replanting 26 trees to replace the 23 which will be lost.

"The plans will help to promote biodiversity in the river and on its banks, which border a nature reserve.

“It is disappointing that, although the council has done the best it can to balance the two opposing views from these groups of protesters in the plans - one group was campaigning for cycling lanes, and the other to save the trees, both groups are now united in their determination to delay progress to open the bridge, to the detriment of all the other people in the area and beyond, who need it to be reopened as soon as possible.”