ANGRY Trowbridge people took to the streets today to take action, after chainsaw-wielding workmen started cutting down trees near their homes.

People living along Wiltshire Drive poured onto the Newland Homes development, where houses are being built on the former West Wiltshire District Council base, to protest at the tree felling.

"There are tree surgeons out there taking down a silver birch right now," Tony Barber told the Wiltshire Times.

"I could not believe it because the trees are subject to a Tree Preservation Order imposed when the development got permission.

"One of my neighbours is across the road having words with them right now. The trees are surrounded by a wire fence which has signs on it saying they are not to be touched. The workmen say they have their orders.

"It's outrageous, we are being told trees are good and we should be planting more of them and here they are cutting these down."

Wiltshire Councillor Andrew Bryant, whose Drynham ward includes the land, said: "It is right the trees have TPOs on them but this work has been passed by the council. The two maples trees with a TPO on are being pollarded to six metres and the silver birch and whitebeams are being removed because they are at a precarious angle.

"I have spoken this morning to the council's arboriculturalist who says the company doing the work were asked to send letters to local residents and he fears that they have not done that.

"The majority of planning decisions these days are delegated to officers. It's possible it (the decision to carry out work on the trees) did not go to committee."

A spokesman for Newland Homes said: "As far as Newland Homes are concerned we have satisfied all the conditions of the permission for these works.

"We have in fact only carried out the minimum amount of work. The purpose of these weeks is to protect these trees and help them have a healthy life.

We are putting 250 new trees in this development as part of our development masterplan. It is all being done carefully.

"We were not obliged to notify anyone. It was not our company's responsibility."

Wiltshire Council has been approached for comment.