by Robin Priestley Apr 11th, 2014
38 Degrees Member Julian from Frome heard that a landmark local tree was at risk of being chopped down by developers, so he started a petition on Campaigns by You to stop them. Last week they had some great news, the tree was saved!
Here’s Julian’s story of his campaign:
Photo courtesy Frome Times
“In February this year, a property developer applied for a planning application to fell a mature London Plane Tree in my town – Frome in Somerset. Just 6 months ago, the tree had been granted a Tree Preservation Order, but unfortunately the TPO would not save the tree from Pangmore Development’s application if approved by Mendip District Council.
One of the last trees in the town centre and certainly the last tree of note in the Kingsway precinct, the Plane is a specimen town centre tree and plays a major contribution in the character of the Conservation Area. Its felling would be a major loss to the aesthetic quality of the town.
I was concerned that the tree would be lost, so I set up a petition on the 38 degrees website ‘Save the Frome Plane Tree‘, and publicised it using social media. At first I recognised names on the petition – friends and people I knew around the town – but fairly soon it went ‘mini-viral’ at a rate of knots, and seemed to take on a life of its own. I was hoping for a few hundred signatures of support, but within a week the petition had gained 2,745 signatures – almost exclusively with Frome postcodes – and I realised the strength of feeling for Frome’s green monument.
Around 10% of the town’s population had signed up.
While the petition counted as only one objection to the planning application in the eyes of the council, it raised awareness of the trees plight and prompted 80 people to write letters of objection. I delivered the petition personally to the Council who were visible surprised at the level of support, and I knew then that it had made an impact.
On 3 April, the Council rejected the application to fell, applying a permanent Tree Preservation Order, so the Frome Plane Tree lives to fight another day.
The 38 degrees petition undoubtably went a long way to securing this outcome, it was easy to set up and manage,and I cannot recommend it highly enough as a tool for galvanising local support for campaigns that matter to local people. It works.”
If there’s an issue close to your heart you can start your own campaign here: http://you.38degrees.org.uk it takes just a couple of minutes to get started.