Tenants reassured over memorial tree’s fate

Scholes Village tenants' rep Anthony O'Dwyer
Scholes Village tenants' rep Anthony O'Dwyer

Housing bosses have reassured residents that their plans to build a new car park at a block of flats will not mean cutting down a memorial tree.

Concerns had been raised about the large tree planted outside Mannion House in Scholes which was put in place in memory of former tenants’ representatives and now has a memorial bench there too.

Current tenants’ rep Anthony O’Dwyer said he would actually resign his post if the tree came to harm during the building of the car park, saying it would be “an insult”.

However, Wigan and Leigh Homes (WALH) have now stressed the plans for a new car park serving Derby, Mannion and Crompton houses do not involve bulldozing greenery.

Mr O’Dwyer, who lives in Derby House, said: “If the tree goes I will step down from being a rep, I feel so strongly about it.

“It would be an insult to me and to all the reps who have died.

“We put the tree in about 19 years ago and it’s lovely.

“It’s got a bench so people can sit down and admire it and someone fetched a stone and put it at the side of the tree in memory of their little dog which died.

“People are worried because they don’t want to see the tree cut down and they don’t want an awful car park there which is so big.

“It’s where all the greenery is and the big trees are. In Preston the trees have been incorporated into new car parks and that’s what I want to happen here.”

However, WALH’s reaction suggests the car park will not be in the area around the memorial tree at all.

Matt Roberts, director of asset management and development at WALH, said: “We have been listening to tenant and resident requests to improve parking within Scholes Village via our area forums.

“We will be increasing the number of parking bays in the vicinity of Mannion House, but we do not intend to disturb the area where the memorial tree and bench is sited.”

Mr O’Dwyer has carried out extensive landscaping and gardening work around the Scholes flats over many years, helping to organise a long weekend of work greening the area back in 1972 and also looking after some of the shrubs and flowers in the area around the high-rise blocks.