Controversial plans to hack down a line of London Plane trees in Pershore’s Broad Street have divided opinion.
A group of campaigners have labelled the idea a “terrible waste of taxpayers’ money” that will rob the town of a historic feature dating back to the late 19th century.
But others have defended the proposals as necessary on health and safety grounds after roots have damaged pavements and created trip hazards.
Worcestershire County Council, which has labelled the work as of “paramount importance”, is inviting members of the public to voice their views by Monday, November 30.
Four options are on the table – removal with no replacements or removal and planting of either Acer Campestre ‘Streetwise’, Malus Trilobata or Tilia Cordata ‘Rancho’ trees.
But none of these are palatable for the campaigners.
David Annis, who is leading calls for the project to be shelved, said: “We are going to oppose the removing of the London Plane trees. We want to keep them.
“They have always been there – photographs show them in Broad Street right back to the 1890s – and they are an important feature of the town.
“The fact is 12 years ago more than £25,000 was spent on the trees – £1,400 each – and now they want to cut them down.”
The town councillor, who was speaking as a member of the public rather than in an official capacity, claimed “terrible mistakes” were made including installing block paving, failing to use root guards and insufficient pollarding and maintenance over the years.
Shirley Agg, who grew up in Pershore, added: “We were originally informed that the public consultation would be about the future of the Broad Street trees – should they stay or should they be felled?
“The consultation form does not ask this question, all the council asks is what trees, if any, the public would like to replace the existing trees with. The consultation is a farce, another complete waste of public money.
“I would ask the people of Pershore – if you value the idyllic image of Pershore’s Broad Street enhanced by the glorious London Plane Trees, make your views known and fight this complete waste of many thousands of pounds of public money.
“Most towns would be so proud to have such a spectacular avenue of trees.”
But others are supportive of the plans.
Councillor Val Wood, of Pershore Town Council, said: “Sad as it is to see the trees go, I don’t see any alternative.
“We have to ensure people are safe.
“I have heard recently from a lady who tripped and broke her arm in Broad Street and I suspect a lot more people have tripped without reporting it.
“The footpaths have to be repaired and I can’t see how that can be done without taking out the trees.”
John Smith, cabinet member with responsibility for highways at Worcestershire County Council, added: “The safety of pedestrians in Broad Street has always been of paramount importance to the county council as well as maintaining the idyllic image of Pershore’s beautiful streets.
“We are proposing the potential tree replacement as essential works, but feel it important that residents and commuters get involved. We encourage and welcome any feedback on the proposed works”.
The county council has outlined a number of problems with the current trees including damage to pavements, tarmac patching for repairs looking “very unsightly” and foliage blocking the light into Broad Street properties.