BAFFLED residents in St Neots drew their curtains back on Saturday morning to realise a small wooded area had disappeared. But according to St Neots Town Council, the removal of dead trees and unruly brambles at the Saxon Gate Community Park Project is the first phase of improvements for the whole community. By 2008, the half-acre park should offer locals a tidy, safe grassed area with new play equipment for youngsters, says the council. Nearby residents claim they knew nothing of the felling before it occurred. Siobhan Brook, a psychiatric nurse whose home in Manor Grove backs onto the park, said: "Last Thursday I heard some work going on, but thought they were just trimming the trees. When I came home from work on Friday, they were all gone." Mrs Brook added: "Neighbours are very upset - there was no consultation and as far as I'm concerned, the park is not a criminal haven. I've never seen anything but people walking their dogs or playing out there - certainly no police." Town councillor Bob Barnes said he recognised the work had become necessary, particularly with the danger of dead wood falling during high winds, but preferred the "wild and rough" look of the area. Explaining the move, operations manager for St Neots Town Council, Brian Gray, told The Hunts Post: "Following the disbanding of a volunteer group who maintained the site, the park has become overgrown and a complete shambles. "The area has been a hive of activity for drug-users with discarded needles posing a danger for children, as well as becoming a dumping ground for garden waste." He said that advice was sought from Huntingdonshire District Council's last September, who recommended the removal of several dead elms and other trees. Mr Gray said: "We have no duty to consult the residents, but as part of the tender document, the contractors were asked to inform them. However, they did neglect to do this in the first instance." The clearing phase of the project should be complete in four to six weeks, with grass re-seeding starting in April.