A petition to save the trees in Lancaster’s Market Square has raised more than 1,700 signatures following a protest in the city at the weekend.
One resident even chained herself to one of the threatened trees during the Save The Lancaster Limes demonstration on Saturday.
Zephyrine Barbarachild joined other protestors in the city and held a sign which declared, “Don’t pave paradise”.
Lancaster City Council was due to make a decision on whether to get rid of them at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, but the petition has now triggered a full debate by all councillors.
Lancaster Council’s cabinet member for regeneration Coun Janice Hanson defended the plans to chop down seven 40-year-old limes.
She said a particular problem with the trees is they are a haven for aphids that feed on the tree’s sap.
They then secrete a sticky liquid called honeydew on to the surface below, causing it to become slippery in wet weather.
She said that the council would “move quickly” to replace the trees with “three to four new trees in planters”.
But many residents, including the city’s Mayor Jon Barry, say that the new surface is slippery anyway, and this was not a justification for chopping down the existing trees.
The council say slippery paving is not the only issue, and that the trees block out light from the square, obscure buildings, and cost around £10,000 a year to maintain.
However, Coun Barry has challenged the cost and Coun Dave Brookes, who represents Castle Ward, said: “The recently issued compromise offer to…plant three or four trees in planters is at best tokenism, and at worst set up to fail.”
Petition organiser Cherry Canovan said: “The fact that we amassed so many paper signatures in such a short space of time demonstrates the strength of feeling among Lancaster residents on this issue. People of all ages and from all walks of life were keen to sign the petition. I and the other campaigners now hope that our local councillors will listen to the electorate and save the Market Square limes.”
The proposals are due to be debated at a full council meeting at Morecambe Town Hall on February 3 at 6pm.