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Fears personal trainers are ‘wounding’ Highbury Fields trees

Fitness routines involve ‘swinging from weak branches’

17 January, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Kate Pothalingam examines damage to trees in Highbury Fields

PERSONAL trainers are damaging trees and memorial benches in Highbury Fields by using them in their exercise routines according to outraged members of two community groups.

The Highbury Fields Association (HFA) and the Highbury Community Association (HCA) are calling on the council to take action against “rogue” personal trainers who are giving trees “war-wounds”.

The groups claim that benches are being used for “squat jumps” while the trees are climbed and low hanging branches are used for “pull-ups”.

Gill Shepherd, an executive member of HCA, said: “We want to support everyone’s use of the park. It’s one of Islington’s best green public spaces, but these people are damaging the trees.”

She added: “They are swinging from thin branches doing pull-ups and that kind of thing, hanging their full weight.”

It is understood that some of the Plane trees in the fields are suffering Massaria disease which causes branches to fall from the trunk.

Ms Shepherd added: “There is a deadly tree disease coming in from Europe that could damage the lovely Plane trees we have in the fields. We don’t want the trees to be weakened and war-wounded before they then get hit by the disease.”

Personal trainers do not need a licence to take clients into Highbury Fields.

HCA has contacted the council suggesting that an outdoor gym be built in the fields as a way of diverting the trainers away from the trees.

The council said it did not have enough money to pay for this but it is open to community groups raising funds to pay for this, according to Ms Shepherd.

Kate Pothalingam, who chairs the HFA, said: “We have had a lot of complaints about PTs using the benches to do squat jumps off. These are mostly memorial benches so it is disrespectful. It also means members of the public cannot sit on the benches.”

An Islington Council spokesman said: “Our parks are treasured green spaces, there for everyone to enjoy. We look after them on behalf of all visitors and expect people to act responsibly and respect our parks so they can be appreciated for generations to come. If people are damaging trees or benches through inconsiderate behaviour, we do have the power to remove them from the park.”

He added: “We will pick up these concerns with both the Highbury Fields Association and the Highbury Community Association to identify any specific trees they feel may be at risk by this behaviour, and will consider appropriate actions.”

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