THE Trustees of the Chambers Institution in Peebles have defended their decision to have two rowan trees cut down last month.

Dozens of angry readers contacted the Peeblesshire News after the mature trees were felled at the town's War Memorial.

As well as being described as 'environmental vandalism', concern was further raised about the lack of consultation ahead of a decision being made.

Scottish Borders Council did defend the felling at the time.

But the six Trustees, councillors Robin Tatler, Shona Haslam, Stuart Bell, Eric Small, Heather Anderson and Kris Chapman - who made the decision have now issued a statement.

The statement read: "We were approached on a number of occasions by the British Legion about the condition of the two trees on either side of the War Memorial.

"The Legion were concerned that these trees had grown to a height that made them inappropriate for the scale of the quadrangle, and that one was starting to deteriorate.

"As a result we commissioned council officers to assess what could be done and asked the Peebles Community Council for their views by way of consultation.

"As Trustees we took all of these views into consideration which was why we decided to counter the degradation that was being caused by the existing trees."

Since the trees were felled in October, regulars at the neighbouring library and gallery have continued to express both sadness and anger.

But the good news is that two 'more suitable' trees will be planted as replacements.

The statement added: "Trees do mature and - like people – they can get frail as they get older.

"Rowan trees, such as those in the Chambers Institute quadrangle are fast-growing and therefore relatively short-lived.

"There is a Scottish superstition that it is bad luck to cut down a Rowan tree; perhaps in this case the bad luck has accrued to ourselves as Trustees of the Chambers Institute in that the public is upset at our decision.

"But it would have been irresponsible of us to have let these two trees grow out of control, and we have specifically asked that they are replaced by two more suitable and suitably sized trees."