Death sentence for another city tree

A treasured tree in Southend could face the chop over “absurd” claims it is leaning too far over the road, frustrated campaigners say.

The mature silver maple tree, in Chadwick Road, Westcliff, has had a notice slapped on it by the council claiming it will be removed because it leans over the highway and is showing signs of disease.

Resident Katy Treverton branded the council’s claim the tree is impacting the road “absurd” and is calling for it to be saved.

She said: “I’m as concerned as many other Southend residents at the removal of many precious trees from our city’s streets.

“Regarding this tree specifically, I can’t see any visible issues at it’s base. The comment on it stating that it poses safety concerns due to its ‘lean over the highway’ is just absurd. Anyone with eyes can see it’s barely leaning at all!”

It comes as campaigners step up their fight to save a 150-year-old London plane tree in Chichester Road, affectionately known as Chester.

Ms Treverton added: “The council have a brilliant tree policy, detailing the importance and benefits of mature trees in our city.

“They state a desire to increase our tree canopy cover, but this just isn’t possible if they keep removing our larger, most beneficial trees as they are right now.

“They should remember they also have climate mitigations and clean air targets to meet and they should look at ways to retain as many beautiful trees in our city as they can.”

Richard Longstaff, a Green Party councillor for Leigh who is also behind the Once Upon A Tree Southend Facebook page said he had called for a tree officer’s report to be published.

He added: “Southend’s tree canopy cover is declining. An inadequate replacement strategy has been prevailing for years meaning the situation is worsening. While I appreciate that risk management is necessary, We cannot afford to lose mature trees like this unless it is absolutely necessary.

“Further, the purpose and key aspect of the tree motion last year was that mature trees are subject to members questions on the environment working party before a decision is made.

“If this is not the case then the working party is not fulfilling its intended purpose.”

A Southend Council spokesperson said: “We never remove trees without good reason, and it is never a decision taken lightly but as indicated on the tree removal notice, the silver maple on Chadwick Avenue unfortunately must be removed due to excessive structural decay at the base of the trunk. The tree also has a lean into the road and these two factors create a significant safety issue and leaves us no option but to remove the tree.

“While the tree may outwardly appear healthy, our dedicated tree specialists conduct thorough professional inspections to uncover any underlying issues that may compromise its stability and safety.

“When a tree is removed, we record the location to make sure that the tree cover within the city is maintained and extended in line with our policy. We will plant a new tree, but it might not be in the exact same spot or road.

“You can follow our tree planting programme on our website which shows the details on new trees being planted across Southend, including the location and species of the tree.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter