Histon FC told fine still stands for cutting down protected trees

HISTON Football Club failed to overturn a huge fine imposed for felling a valuable collection of trees.

The club admitted that felling a large number of protected oak, maple and lime trees outside its ground unlawfully was a “bad mistake”.

Chairman Russell Hands said it had cost the team dearly in restoration fees but appealed the decision after he argued a �9,500 penalty was too severe.

“It was all done on the back of an envelope and in a cack-handed way but it was not done to make money for the club,” Mark Shelley said on behalf of the club during the hearing at Ely Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

Judge Anthony Bate disagreed. He ruled: “A fine of �9,500 was entirely merited for the gravity of the offence in question.”

The team now faces a difficult economic future, with huge debts to repay and the prospect of being dumped out of the Blue Square Premier League following a run of poor performances.

“The new regime of directors is trying to save the club from potential financial ruin,” Mr Shelley said.

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“They are not Manchester United.”

A team of workers was paid to tidy up the wooded area behind the Glass World Stadium in February last year.

Iain Bain, representing South Cambridgeshire District Council, argued: “It was devastated afterwards.”

Many trees were felled and the damage caused to others meant a total of 60 had to be replaced.

Histon FC has already spent �16,000 clearing the area and replanting trees but said: “�9,500 is a high penalty to pay.”

Judge Bate replied: “We are not persuaded that the club doesn’t have the resources to meet this fine.”

He also ordered the team to pay �500 appeal costs, on top of the �300 costs and �15 victim surcharge set by Cambridge Magistrates’ Court in December last year.

Magistrates could have fined Histon FC up to �20,000.