ONE OF the largest trees in Belle Vue Park has been cut down after it was damaged during the recent stormy weather.

The six tonne tree, near St Augustine’s Church, was cut down by contractors from the Vale of Glamorgan Council on Tuesday, February 18, after it began lifting around five inches off the ground and fears were raised that it could topple over.

Phil Beaman, operational manager for parks and ground maintenance for the Vale Council, said: “After the Valentine’s Day storm, it was identified that a large pine tree in the park had serious stability problems due to damaged roots.

“The tree was assessed and in order to make the park safe for users the tree had to be felled.”

After the tree was cut down large sections of the tree's trunk were cordoned off with red tape, while the surrounding section of the park was also restricted.

Parents of Albert Primary School pupils criticised the ‘ridiculous’ decision to close off nearly a quarter of the park, including the popular wooden dragon sculpture, as an overreaction.

One parent, who was with her young son in the park, said: "It seems a bit ridiculous to close the whole section of the park just because of the tree.

"It would be nice to walk around there."

She added: "We use the park most days.

"My son is not happy as he wanted to go on the wooden dragon."

Friends of Belle Vue Park, a community group that works in collaboration with the Vale Council’s parks department, reluctantly accepted the decision to cut down the tree for safety reasons.

David Wilton, vice chairman of Friends of Belle Vue Park, said that the tree had always had a lean to it and that the group knew it was going to be “a bit of a risk” during stormy weather.

“The council took the view it had moved and they came in straight away as they have a duty to take it down,” he said.

“It was a real shame as it was one of the biggest trees in the park. Unfortunately that was the option they took.”

He added that it was the third large tree in the last 18 months that had been cut down and that he was hoping they could soon be replaced.

“We think six need to be planted as this would replace the three that have been felled and fill in a few gaps,” he said.

He added that a community event where local schoolchildren plant the saplings is now being planned for this summer.

“It would be nice to get a photo of youngsters next to a sapling and compare it to them in 50 years time when they’ve all grown up.”