The former leader of Wychavon District Council has raised his concerns over the proposed replacement of the London plane trees in Pershore’s Broad Street.
Last month it was announced that the trees had grown too large and the damage they were causing to pavements resulted in suggestions they needed to be replaced with a different variety.
Worcestershire County Council favours a variety of crab apple but this has provoked concern among some.
Malcolm Meikle who was in office at Wychavon in 2002 when the plane trees were most recently replaced says the suggestion choice of crab apple is a poor one as it would lead to a slip hazard when the fruit fell off. He also said he felt a proper consultation has not been carried out.
“None of this would have been discussed if the trees had been pruned properly in the first place,” he said.
Mr Meikle said the original trees planted decades ago had all been replaced. He said the reason new ones were planted around 2002 was for aesthetic reasons as they had become a mixture of types.
He also suggested removing the trees could cause further problems.
“If they take these trees out now they will have to take up the pavements and part of the road to remove the roots which will be a huge and expensive operation. If they decide to leave the roots in the ground they will eventually rot away and could cause subsidence.
“Another point is that the consultation paper which people were invited to comment on made no opportunity for people to say whether they wanted the current trees to remain. I hope a final decision has not yet been made because there should be a proper public consultation for people to give their views and suggestions and also consult experts,” he said.
Another concerned member of the public is Margaret Portland who lived near Evesham for 20 years but is now in Alcester where she is chairman of the Alcester Gardening Club.
“I do not confess to being an expert, but I would strongly advice against any type of crab apple planted in Broad Street. I regularly visit Pershore and I can see a hazard to people walking along the pavements when fruit is on the floor because they will make the footpath very slippery. Would the council accept responsibility for anyone falling and breaking an ankle?” she asked.
A Worcestershire County Council spokesperson said: “The option to replace the eighteen London plane trees in Broad Street with the safer and more suitable Malus trilobata was one selected by the majority of people following a public consultation. The non-aggressive species acts as a nectar source to pollinators and the flowers are in keeping with the local blossom trails. “Although the trees will fruit, due to the type of Malus proposed, this will only take place during very hot summers.
“The original proposal and options were based on the evidence that keeping the current trees simply wasn’t viable due to the trip hazard posed to pedestrians, the significant ongoing cost of maintenance and potential damage to nearby property. However, the consultation did offer the opportunity for suggestions to be made on how the current trees could practically be maintained in their current location. Although some people wanted to retain the existing trees, there were no practical suggestions on how this could be achieved.
“The next step will be to liaise with Wychavon District Council and ensure compliance with any necessary conservation Area provisions.”