THE Mayor of Darwen has hit out at council staff for felling 17 trees which were part of a landscaping scheme.

Coun Paul Browne said cutting down the syca-mores, maples, plumb trees, cherry trees and lime trees was “an act of vandalism”.

Some were planted up to 60 years ago in place of the demolished Finch Street.

Blackburn with Darwen Council said the trees had to be felled because they were growing too closely together and some were dying.

But Coun Browne called the move “unnecessary” and said it would lead to problems on the newly-uncovered grassed area.

He said: “The trees have been there for 60 years and they should have stayed. There was no need for it.

“I think it’s a disgrace what the council have done – it’s an act of vandalism.

"It will have a big impact on the surrounding area and now there’s going to be people on the grassed area, playing and making a mess of it.

“To say that they needed to be brought down because they were too close is rubbish.

"They should have done what they normally do – prune them back.”

Coun Faryad Hussain, executive member of environmental improvement and sustainability, said: “The pruning and felling work was carried out partly to satisfy local residents who had issues with obstructions the trees were causing.

“The majority of those felled were less than 10 years old.

“They were dead, dying or with weak branches and could have caused potential injury.

“Their removal could benefit more prominent trees in the area, allowing them to fully develop.

“We could look into replanting trees in this area if the necessary funding can be found."