Former girlfriend of George Best saves city trees

Ani Rinchen dated the footballer while she worked as a model under the name Jackie Glass

A FORMER girlfriend of George Best has won a bitter battle with one of Scotland’s biggest councils to save trees at a city centre beauty spot.

Edinburgh council has said it will no longer cut down five willow trees near the Water of Leith in Cannonmills.

More than 1000 locals signed a petition in two weeks objecting to a plan to fell the trees to make way for £11million flood defences.

Ani Rinchen, now an Edinburgh-based Bhuddist nun who was previously known as model Jackie Glass and dated the football legend, described how she harangued contractors preparing to chop the trees.

She said: “Result. We stopped the chop.

“I was out there for an hour-and-a-half arguing with contractors at one point.

“These trees are of critical importance and significant value to the townscape, streetscape and landscape of this conservation area on the edge of a World Heritage Site.”

More than a dozen trees were cut down in November, and plans to fell more caused outrage.

The council said it had suspended work “to allow officials to ensure planning procedures are being followed.”

Dave Anderson,Edinburgh’s director of city development, said: “I would like to confirm that, of the 11 trees in question, we have now identified that five can be saved without any negative impact on the flood work programme.

“I also agreed that we would look to see what might be done by way of an engineering solution in relation to the rigging structure so as to avoid, if at alol possible, removing a further two trees.”

He said trees could be pruned rather than removed altogether.

But he added: “The remaining four trees at the end will regrettably need to be removed.”

The upmarket area on the edge of the capital’s New Town is a favourite for walkers.