Veterans devastated after century-old hedge is torn up at Milang Soldiers Memorial Gardens

Hedge removed: The unseemly sight following the removal of a century old hedge at Milang Soldiers Memorial Gardens. Photo: Greg Hopgood via Facebook.
Hedge removed: The unseemly sight following the removal of a century old hedge at Milang Soldiers Memorial Gardens. Photo: Greg Hopgood via Facebook.

Veterans and community members have been left devastated after a portion of a 99 year-old hedge surrounding the Milang Soldiers Memorial Gardens was torn up by Alexandrina Council on Wednesday, June 24.

Video posted to Facebook by Milang resident and veteran Greg Hopgood shows council workers in the final stages of removing the significant hedge.

About 50 metres of the hedge which lines the gardens on the corner of Ameroo Ave and Coxe Street was uprooted.

In the footage, Mr Hopgood can be heard deriding council workers for their actions.

"Do you understand, did you feel anything when you were ripping that up?" Mr Hopgood asks.

Workers respond to Mr Hopgood, saying a portion of the hedge posed a safety risk for motorists, blocking eye lines at the neighbouring intersection.

President of the Strathalbyn RSL Sub Branch Cate Goodall, said veterans and the wider Milang community were disappointed the hedge had been removed without any form of consultation.

"It has appeared to have occurred without any community consultation," Ms Goodall said.

"If there was community consultation, it did not include the RSL or anyone who had been previously involved in the development of those lovely gardens.

"Quite a lot of people in Milang have put an awful lot of heart and soul and effort and energy into working on that lovely space, which has always been a very quiet and contemplative place."

Ms Goodall said to see an entire section of the hedge removed on one side of the entrance gate was "shattering".

"There were better ways to have done this and I don't believe the excuse of public safety, that you can't see around the corner," Ms Goodall said.

"You can [see around the corner] if you stop at the give way signs.

"It's a disappointing argument for something that should of had some degree of historical consideration before it was removed categorically."

Ms Goodall said the RSL was always open for consultation and if there was a public safety risk, representatives would have been happy to talk to the council about remediating this.

The 50 metre portion of hedge was removed on the right of the Soldiers Memorial Gardens entrance at Milang. Photo: Alexandrina Council.

The 50 metre portion of hedge was removed on the right of the Soldiers Memorial Gardens entrance at Milang. Photo: Alexandrina Council.

RSL representatives including Mr Hopgood and Brian Wakefield who are both returned servicemen and Milang residents, have since met with Alexandrina Mayor Keith Parkes.

The council is also planning a meeting next week to initiate a forward plan with the guidance of RSL representatives.

Ms Goodall said at this time, a forward plan for the site remained unclear.

"With the right consultation, a suitable arrangement could have been made that would have pleased everyone and we just seem to have missed that step," Ms Goodall said.

Alexandrina Council has been contacted for comment.

Speaking to Channel Nine Adelaide on June 25, Mr Parkes said elected members had not been warned about the removal of the hedge and that it would be replaced with a new garden bed.

"It is a mistake and it shouldn't have happened but out of this bad thing we have to make a good thing,'' Mr Parkes said.