Council defends plan to chop down Lancaster trees

Coun Janice Hanson
Coun Janice Hanson

Lancaster City Council has defended its plans to chop down seven 40-year-old lime trees in Market Square.

Coun Janice Hanson, the council’s cabinet member for regeneration, said she still wanted to see trees in the square, and would move quickly to plant four new trees in planters if her proposals were given the go-ahead at a meeting next week.

But a campaign video asking members of the public for their views paints a different picture.

Local filmmaker Ray Turner of Clearlight Media asked shoppers in Market Square what they thought of the proposals, with the overwhelming majority saying they didn’t want the council to chop down the trees.

Coun Hanson said: “I want to assure people that I want to see trees in our urban areas and Market Square in particular.

“My view is that we need to take action because of the problems they cause, but we can also retain the benefits they bring by planting a more appropriate and manageable species.

Dark times ahead for the Lancaster Limes

Dark times ahead for the Lancaster Limes

“By doing this and reducing the number to three to four trees, which would be placed in planters, we can open up the beauty of Market Square while still benefiting from the colour they bring. They would remain a manageable size and we would also plant an additional seven new trees elsewhere in the district, meaning a net gain overall.

“Therefore, if Cabinet supports my proposals, we will move quickly to plant new trees because we do need them, but of a more appropriate number, size and species for Market Square.”

Coun Hanson says that a particular issue with the current lime trees in the square is that they are a haven for aphids that feed on the tree’s sap.

They then secrete ‘honeydew’, a sugar rich sticky liquid, on to the new surfacing below, causing it to become slippery in wet weather.

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 trees.

The council say that this is not the only issue, and that the trees also block out light from the square and obscure buildings.

Cutting back and thinning is needed with increasing frequency to keep the crowns from buildings, to keep views through to business fronts relatively clear and to assure street lighting is effective, the council said.

Coun Hanson added: “With rapidly reducing resources due to Government cutbacks, this cost is unsustainable.

“Removing the trees and having trees in planters instead will also mean there is more space for seating, to permit more use for street cafes and for the Charter Market.

“The city council’s Cabinet will meet on Tuesday December 19 to discuss the proposals.”