Southend Council comes under fire for felling trees

Residents have raised concerns over mature trees being cut down during nesting season and without warning.

Homeowners in Thorpedene Gardens in Shoebury say there were not notified of the removal of a large, seemingly healthy 20-year-old tree. The tree, 40ft high silver birch, was removed during work to replace paving but residents say they have no idea how many more will be felled.

The council has also removed a mature maple tree in Thorpe Hall Avenue, Thorpe Bay and others in Rampart Terrace, Shoebury.

Richard Longstaff from the Once Upon a Tree Southend campaign group, said: “It’s typical of the department responsible to just yield to highways when they complain that the trees are incompatible with highway repairs. They go unchallenged.

“Given that the administration has declared to be carbon neutral by 2030 this is a travesty that needs to be addressed immediately as we have lost many thousands of “mature” trees over the past decade, which we absolutely could not afford to lose.”

Thorpedene Gardens resident, David Hadjicostas, said: “We have roadworks going on at the moment to replace our pathways. One of our lovely big trees has disappeared. I’m not sure why, and perhaps it may have had an issue, but I sincerely hope it wasn’t removed to make way for Tarmac. If any more come out I will be making a formal complaint.”

His wife Evelyn, added: “As a resident here for almost 30 years I like the trees lining our road. We were not told that they would be taken out.”

Paul Rabbitts, head of Parks and Open Spaces, said the council checks for nesting birds.

He added: “We never remove trees without good reason, and it is never a decision taken lightly. In 2022 we have already planted over 450 new trees across the City.

“In a small number of cases like this, the roots are so high and causing so much damage to the pathway that it become a potential safety concern leaving us no option but to remove the tree. We consider alternative options such as a change of pavement surface for instance, but this is not always appropriate or suitable.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter

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