Jim King in Cudgen. trees to go. Photo: John Gass / Daily News
Jim King in Cudgen. trees to go. Photo: John Gass / Daily News John Gass

Cudgen slash pines on the chopping block

A ROW is brewing over the removal of four mature Slash Pines from Collier St in Cudgen where the trees were planted after the Second World War by a member of the Dutch resistance to honour his lost mates.

The Cudgen Progress Association asked Tweed Shire Council to remove the pines and replace them with a single Norfolk Pine to honour a Cudgen soldier who failed to return from the battlefields of the First World War.

The Norfolk Pine is located near the Cudgen War Memorial inside Cudgen Primary School's grounds and needs to be removed because it is diseased.

However, Cudgen resident Jim King wants to keep the pines planted by Dutch resistance fighter Frank Kapel who lived in Collier St for close to 60 years.

Mr Kapel brought British airmen through enemy lines to safety and back to Britain and lost a number of mates in the process.

Mr King said "I am shocked by the flippant way the Cudgen Progress Association and Tweed Shire Council have handled this sensitive issue.

"Frank Kapel contributed an enormous amount to the community and was instrumental in the creation of the war memorial at Cudgen Primary School.

"A plague at the Cudgen War Memorial for him and his mates would be a fitting tribute to these men," Mr King said.

Progress Association president Carl Redman said the trees should not have been planted there at all as Mr Kapel received no official authorisation to go ahead.

"All we want is to see the four trees replaced by the Norfolk Pine in remembrance of Cudgen soldiers who went overseas to fight and never returned.

"People who criticise our decision should come and talk to the progress association rather than run to the media.

"Council should listen to the unanimous decision by the progress association.

"This is a Cudgen issue and should be about Cudgen residents who lost their lives overseas," Mr Redman said.

Tweed Shire Council's manager recreation services Stewart Brawley said the council received a request from the progress association to remove the trees.

"The progress association's point of view was that the resident involved was no longer there and the trees' presence was inappropriate.

"We decided to run an article in council's newsletter, the Tweed Link, to encourage feedback from residents.

"If we had received no feedback, we would have gone ahead but we've received a number of phone calls and letters including from relatives of Mr Kapel, who wanted to keep the trees.

"Once the dust surrounding this issue is settled, we'll try to see which options are available and find a mutually acceptable alternative," Mr Brawley said.

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