PEEBLES Community Council has hit back at members of the Chambers Institution Trust.

The Peeblesshire News published a statement from the Trustees earlier this month defending their decision to fell two Rowan trees at the War Memorial.

Shocked residents had described the felling as ‘environmental vandalism’.

The Trustees said they acted on concerns from the British Legion about the condition of the trees.

And all six of Tweeddale councillors, who make up the Trust, say they asked Peebles Community Council for their views by way of consultation.

But Chairman of the town’s community council Les Turnbull has refuted the claims and says it illustrates the lack of transparency with the Chambers Institute Trust.

He said: “As a community council we are the voice of the people of Peebles.

"We are a resource for Trustees to bounce ideas off and to get ideas to find out what the view of the community is to all sorts of things.

“In relation to the Chambers Institute Trust there was quite a head of steam built up over the removal of the Rowan trees.

“There was no consultation about removal of the trees; we were told that this is what was going to happen and asked what our views were as a community council.

"I know at the time there was some concern about the removal of the trees and there were some views expressed asking if they had to be removed, or were there other actions that could be taken like pruning them?

“And then of course we found out the decision was made and the trees were cut down and that to me was unacceptable. I’m not saying that the trees shouldn’t have been taken down because I don’t know enough about them, but if the experts were saying they had to come down then fine.

“But in my view there should have been some serious consultation with the community and some ameliorating factors put in place.”

Many people who work and visit around the quadrangle had contacted the Peeblesshire News in the days after the felling to voice their anger.

Speaking to the Trustees present at last week's community council, Mr Turnbull said: “There is no representation at your meetings, unlike the Common Good Fund were we have a representative who is able to give their view.

“When you go onto the Scottish Borders Council website to find the minutes of the meetings, well the proverbial rocking horse comes to mind.

"It is very difficult to find details about what is going on.”

During last week's meeting concerns were also voiced about the condition of the Burgh Hall.

Mr Turnbull added: “The Silver Band have great difficulty in using it for concerts because of the state of the electricity supply in there and lights not working on the stage. That must be a safety risk if nothing else.

"Unfortunately he’s not here to answer, but letters have been sent to Councillor Chapman who is the Chair of the Chambers Institute Trust and no response has been received.

“On behalf of Bonnie Peebles Plus and the community council, I wrote asking whether the Trust would be willing to contribute to the flowers in the Quadrangle.

“In the minutes of their meeting I saw the subject had been discussed and it was decided at this stage that no, we wouldn’t get any money from the Trust unless we couldn’t get sponsorship. Nobody had the decency to get back to me and tell me. I only found it by trawling through bits of paper.

“I think it’s unacceptable.”

Mr Turnbull's comments were accepted by Councillor Robin Tatler.

He said: “You’ve brought up something that is quite clear, that we’re are not communicating with the public what it we are supposed to be doing and what we are doing.”

He and Councillor Heather Anderson agreed to feedback the opinions of the community council to the remaining Trustees.

It was also suggested that the Trustees give a presentation to a future meeting about the work of the Chambers Institute Trust.