A recent morning raid to fell two mature rowan trees at a war memorial in the Scottish Borders has led to anger and dismay.

Representatives from the British Legion believed the height of the trees was out of keeping with the quadrangle memorial gardens in Peebles, and had raised further concerns about roots damaging pathways.

Trustees of the Chambers Institution recruited the town's community council to gauge opinion on removing the rowans.

Although feedback from the public was in support of retaining the trees, the final decision rested with the six trustees of the Chambers Institution - councillors Shona Haslam, Stuart Bell, Robin Tatler, Heather Anderson, Kris Chapman and Eric Small.

Earlier this month tree surgeons arrived at the quadrangle early in the morning to chop down the rowans.

Clare Donaldson, who works at neighbouring Peebles Library, said: "I was absolutely horrified to return to work in the library to discover that the trees had been hacked down in what can only be described as an act of environmental vandalism.

"Because I wasn't there when it was done, I was unable to question who was responsible or why it was done.

"When the community council asked for opinions I did straw polls of users of the library and people in the Chambers Institution quadrangle and without exception everyone was horrified at the prospect of removal.

"I passed on the feedback to the community council.

"I tried to get feedback on whether our views were being taken into consideration before a decision was made but no one seemed to know who was making the decision, or when.

"Over my years in the library I have frequently had conversations with total strangers regarding the beautiful sanctuary that was the Chambers Institution quadrangle and particularly the beauty of the stunning rowan to the left of the War Memorial which changed colour on a daily basis throughout autumn.

"Library users often commented, totally unsolicited, on the spectacular views it afforded from Chambers Institution windows.

"Since the trees were cut down all comments - and there have been very many - have been wholly negative, a mixture of sadness and anger and a questioning as to who could possibly have sanctioned such wanton destruction."

The memorial gardens within the quadrangle provide a peaceful sanctuary in the middle of Peebles, but many visitors believe the removal of the mature trees has diminished its appeal.

As well as anger, questions are being asked as to why no formal consultation was carried out and if proper procedures were followed.

Local environmentalist Bosco Santimano said: "I am speaking for the many, many people who have stopped me and contacted me over the past week to ask how this was allowed to happen.

"This has shocked and angered a lot of people in Peebles.

"Our concern is how was this allowed to happen when no consultation was held within the community.

"And we want to know if all legal procedures were followed before these beautiful mature trees were cut down - these trees were in a conservation area.

"This can only be described as an act of vandalism."

Scottish Borders Council claims that procedures were carried out ahead of the recent felling and an agreement had been reached for their removal between local authority officers and trustees of the Chambers Institution.

A spokesperson explained: “The two trees were removed following local concerns about condition and impact on surrounding buildings.

“This work was carried out following agreement with a number of local groups.

"All the appropriate approvals were sought prior to removing the trees.”

This story first appeared in the Peeblesshire News.