Protest as council workers move Dunblane memorial

Pupils plant the trees in 1997
Pupils plant the trees in 1997
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TREES planted in memory of victims of the Dunblane massacre have been uprooted by the city council, despite the protests of nearby residents.

The 17 trees were planted in 1997 at Drumbrae Primary School, with one for each of the 16 pupils and one teacher who died.

When the school was closed last July, nearby residents pleaded with the council to leave the trees undisturbed when the site was redeveloped into a council care home, but yesterday they were dug up with heavy machinery.

The council said it was moving as many of the trees as possible to another part of the site and would plant saplings to replace those that did not survive, but locals said they feared that the way in which the trees had been removed would make it impossible to replant any of them successfully.

Karen Keil, vice-chairwoman of Drum Brae community council, said the trees had been paid for with a donation from a special memorial fund set up after the 1996 shooting.

She said: “One of the residents who was involved in planting the trees saw them being bulldozed by a JCB and the builders said ‘they’re just being moved’, but he’s a horticulturist and said you can’t just move a tree with a JCB.

“Somebody brought this to the attention of the community council two or three months ago because they’d seen the plans for the care home that’s going in there and it did not include these trees.

“The community council asked Robert Aldridge, who is our local councillor, to raise this and ensure they were not removed.

“This is a big memorial and if the money for it came from the Dunblane Memorial Fund, I don’t think Edinburgh council have a right to move it.

“It’s really disrespectful to the memory of the kids of Dunblane, that’s what’s really concerning us.”

Ms Keil said it was not enough to recreate a memorial elsewhere.

She said: “That’s not good enough. I was talking to people today who were saying they were planted there as a memorial to Dunblane. They’ve desecrated the memorial, is the feeling among people I’ve spoken to today. They could put up an entire monument instead and it wouldn’t matter.”

A city council spokesman said: “It is a condition of the planning application that the trees and shrubs forming the Dunblane Memorial Garden will be reprovided within the site. The exact location will be agreed as part of the ongoing consultation on the new park. To best protect the existing trees in the interim, some have been relocated to the south-east corner of the park.”