Planting trees and burying the hatchet as school fence row is finally resolved

Tree planting in the rain at Askrigg primary school.

By Betsy Everett

Controversy over the planned construction of a six-foot high security fence around a Dales primary school playing field, has finally been resolved with a rain-soaked community effort to plant 400 trees in less than an hour.

Almost a year to the day since the proposed fence was condemned by Askrigg and Low Abbotside parish council chairman, Bruce Fawcett, as “the most controversial thing that has ever happened in this village in my lifetime,” holes were dug and hatchets buried as the saplings were planted around a – possibly temporary – less visible fence.

It will take an estimated six to seven years for the trees to grow to the height of the fence, said Dave Allen of Wensleydale Tree Services.

Villagers, community leaders, parents, and children as young as two, came in wellies and waterproofs to do the work under the guidance of Mr Allen, who gave his time free of charge.

Afterwards tea prepared by volunteers Miriam Cloughton and Gemma Gurden was served to the helpers who had turned out in the pouring rain to dig the turf.

Among them was Vanda Hurn, chair of the Yorebridge Sports Development Association, which shares the site with the school. Said Vanda: “All who have been involved in the question of the security fencing are delighted to have reached a good, co-operative conclusion. There was a celebratory atmosphere as we worked together to plant more than 400 trees, despite the torrential rain. It was a true community effort.”