MINDLESS yobs hacked down a group of trees that were planted in an £8,000 scheme to improve a neighbourhood.
Hartlepool Borough Council bosses have slammed the vandals who attacked 10 trees in the Muirfield Walk area of Hartlepool, and said they should “hang their heads in shame”.
The silver birches had been planted only five years ago at the request of residents who wanted the green space on the town’s Clavering estate to be given a facelift.
Council bosses say the plants, which were up to 20ft-tall, are so badly damaged that they will not survive.
They also confirmed that the trees are unlikely to be replaced because of Government cutbacks.
Police have launched an investigation into the vandalism and officers have been carrying out door-to-door inquiries as part of the probe.
A spokesman for the council said: “This is a sickening attack and environmental vandalism at its worst.
“We are liaising with the police and are doing everything possible to catch those responsible.”
The trees were planted after consultation work with the North Neighbourhood Forum.
They are said to have matured well and created an attractive treeline along a popular footpath, but all that is left now is ragged stumps.
The council spokesman added: “A few years ago the council – through the North Neighbourhood Forum – worked very closely with local residents to devise a scheme to improve this area. The trees were starting to really mature and the people who did this should hang their heads in shame.
“The damage to the trees is severe and we will not be able to salvage them. Also, with the level of Government grant cuts facing the council, finding money for such schemes is becoming harder and harder so the trees may not be replaced.”
A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “Investigations are under way and officers would be keen to speak with anyone who may have any information or who may have seen anything. Officers are visible in the local community and are conducting door-to-door inquiries in order to locate those responsible.”
Anyone with information should contact Hartlepool Police on (01642) 326326 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.