Anger as tree planted by Cherie Blair disappears

Cherie Blair. Picture: PA
Cherie Blair. Picture: PA
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It’s a mystery that has left everyone stumped – residents in Craigmillar are in disbe-leaf after a commemorative tree planted by Cherie Blair was chopped down.

The disappearance of the much-loved Scots pine has angered locals and prompted a probe to find out who was responsible.

Mrs Blair planted the Scots pine in Craigmillar in 1997. Picture: TSPL

Mrs Blair planted the Scots pine in Craigmillar in 1997. Picture: TSPL

All that remains on the council-owned land where it was planted is a commemorative plaque marking the former prime minister’s wife’s visit – but city leaders don’t have a clue what happened to the tree.

It has enjoyed pride of place at what was then the Craigmillar Festival Society’s office – known to many as “the settlement” – in Niddrie Mains Terrace since 1997.

Back then it was planted to mark the start of the Commonwealth Tree Trail after the city council forked out £200,000 sprucing up the Capital as it hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.

Now the rumour mill in Craigmillar is in overdrive, with Councillor David Walker, the former secretary of the Craigmillar Festival Society, speculating that volunteers, who took it upon themselves to tidy up the area, cut it down by mistake.

He said: “I worked at the centre for a number of years and maintained the building and the garden. I imagine the reason this will have happened will have been because it’s been so overgrown – whoever has been tending to the garden has been unable to see the plaque.

“It’s an ongoing complaint that I have been making, the garden has been left to rack and ruin. The tree marked a very important part of history – a very significant part of Craigmillar’s history – and now it’s been lost.

“The prime minister’s wife marked the occasion by planting a tree. It’s just a shame the council didn’t pay more attention in terms of keeping it properly maintained.”

Mrs Blair did the honours when she visited Craigmillar along with dozens of Commonwealth heads of government and foreign ministers’ wives.

Craigmillar resident Fraser Martin, who lives in East Court, said: “It all seems a bit odd – if a tree’s got a plaque, it’s obviously there in recognition of something, so you’d know not to cut it down.

“If someone official has done it then it’s not very clever.”

Lyndsay Martin, secretary of Craigmillar Labour, said the area “deserved better”.

She said: “The Scots pine was planted with the assistance of local children as part of a school environmental project.

“A commemorative plaque was erected at the time and was clearly visible.”

City environment chief Councillor Lesley Hinds has launched a probe to discover the tree’s fate, and said: “As soon as we were contacted by the Evening News we began looking into this.”

No-one from Cherie Blair’s office was available for comment.

Mysteries from mis-spelt signs to the wrong type of cement

MYSTERIES such as the disappearing tree are not entirely uncommon.

Parents were left scratching their heads when the word ‘sckool’ was painted on the road outside Innellan Primary in Dunoon. Unlike the case with Cherie Blair’s tree, dozy council workers turned out to be responsible.

In West Sussex, six new homes had to be demolished after the wrong type of cement was used.

Garry Rapson, building director for Croudace, put the blunder down to “human error”.

And police in Hampshire were left red faced after a life-sized tiger toy sparked a major alert over fears a real animal was on the loose. Officers even deployed a helicopter in their hunt.