Council to carry out internal review of ‘heavy’ hedge cutback in nesting season at Margate Winter Gardens

The 'heavy' cutting resulted in a huge protest Photo Thanet Trees

Thanet council’s leader and deputy leader have called an internal review into recent ‘heavy’ hedge cutting at Margate’s Winter Gardens

The decision comes on the heels of complaints made to the council and Kent Police’s wildlife unit about the cutbacks to the hedgerows during nesting season.

In a letter to the council Thanet Trees group representative Amelia Gregory said: “Why is TDC decimating shrubs across Thanet during peak nesting season, despite advice from many different bodies to avoid all cut backs of hedgerows during this season unless urgent? Why has this been deemed urgent?”

The group say there was evidence of nesting at the Winter Gardens site and a complaint was lodged with police.

Thanet council said the area was checked for nesting. Kent Police have since confirmed officers won’t be taking the case any further.

Winter Gardens Photo Thanet Trees

The cutting caused outrage with many concerned residents saying heavy equipment should not have been used for the work and the result was ‘devastation.’

A protest over the works was held at the site last week and attracted more than 150 people.

Photo Laura Sullivan

Ms Gregory said: “A disastrous decision was made to flail these bushes with a completely inappropriate industrial machine, without due checks for nesting birds, laying waste to elderly ornamental hedging that may never recover, and leaving a huge bird population homeless.

“These bushes were the home of starlings and many other at risk species, and were most likely the stop off point for migratory birds, exhausted after their long flight across the sea. Where will they live now? We demand an urgent review of TDC’s structure and environmental and open space strategies.”

Council leader Bob Bayford has now confirmed a review will be carried out.

He said: “I want to reassure residents that Thanet District Council is committed to safeguarding our coastline and countryside. Our priority should always be to preserve and enhance Thanet’s biodiversity and natural environment.

“As such,  Cllr Ash Ashbee and I have called for an internal review into the hedge maintenance work carried out at the Winter Gardens on Tuesday,June 4. Although Kent Police have confirmed they found no evidence of any disturbance or damage to nesting birds and therefore concluded that no offences have been committed, we are keen to understand the council’s approach to this work, with a view to continuous improvement.

“I can also confirm that there will be no further tree or hedge maintenance work carried out by the council until 1 October. The only exception would be if there are any urgent health and safety concerns identified by our health and safety compliance officer, or if we are served notice by Kent County Council under the Highways Act.”

Find the Thanet Trees facebook page here

Legal fund

Salmestone Ward Residents Association has launched a campaign to raise a legal fund in response to concerns over recent hedge and tree cutting on the isle.

A statement on the fundraising page says: “We have come to the point that we feel we are going to need legal advice. We all have seen and read about the cutting down of trees and hedgerows in Thanet, the proposed Local Plan and the 17,000 + houses.

“We know that we need houses, but as a residents association we have to make sure they are being built to the letter of the law and to ensure Thanet District Council/Kent County Council imposes the letter of the law. But unfortunately, they don’t.

The money raised will be used not only to protect the residents of Salmestone Ward, but the whole of Thanet. Please give no matter how small.”

Find the fundraiser here


  1. It must be a relief that the wanton destruction of wildlife habitat led by Ashbee and Bayford, has finally been brought to a halt.
    Whatever the results of any review, while Ashbee remains in charge of operational services poor decisions such as led to the decimation of the hedging around the Winter Gardens will surely follow. If Bayford is to avoid further damage to the reputation of his administration and more importantly the district of Thanet he must act swiftly to remove Ashbee from operational services as a first step to regaining the trust of residents.

  2. They are holding a internal review into the hedgerow debacle they should not have done it in the first place but once again TDC think to late. As usual an internal review will mean a white wash or a disposable employee will be blamed!!

  3. My prediction – no senior staff at the council will face any sort of action over this. The “review” will go on just long enough that they hope everyone forgets about it and everything is then swept under the carpet.

  4. So the local police are taking no further action I wonder why I very much doubt if they have a clue what they looking for I don’t think so dare I say they probably think they got better things to do animals have never been the problem will only the human animal. As the council doing its investigation or whatever you want to call it they should never have done in the 1st place and they know it.

  5. It’s all out in the open now about the breaches getting swept under the carpet. Kent Wildlife Policing doesn’t seem to be up to scratch either allowing this excessive cut back and also the Tivoli woods illegal felling of trees in nesting season to continue without any threat of action taken against the culprits.

  6. Did they ask the RSPB first? They would never have seen a birds nest hidden in the hedge, that is why they are there,to be out of sight, and the parent birds will fly away when intrusion is suspected to try to lead the perpretrator away from the nest so of course they wouldn’t see any evidence. There should be no cutting before August at the earliest but why can the not do it in the winter months.

  7. Cutting back hard like that is fine even with machines it will come back looking fine …..BUT……no one with a brain would do it this time of year, 1 nesting birds, 2 doesnt look good, 3 what will tourist think.
    I have cut back very hard before but always in the autumn or winter months ready for the strong spring growth. As for why the council dont do it than I guess that would mean forward planning !!

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