Mayor opposes mass tree chop in city square

Lancaster Market Square
Lancaster Market Square

Plans to chop down all the trees in Market Square have been condemned by the Mayor of Lancaster.

Coun Jon Barry said the removal of the seven mature lime trees would make the centre of the city a “sterile and uninviting place”.

Lancaster City Council said that the trees were affecting businesses and visitors due to their sheer size, and were a haven for aphids which were causing the new surfacing to become slippery when wet.

The decision on whether to do away with the trees will be made by Coun Janice Hanson, but other councillors, Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Lancaster BID will get to have their say as well.

The decision could then be referred to full cabinet.

Coun Barry said: “The trees soften the stonework of Market Square and provide welcome shade in summer.

“In addition, they remove pollutants from the atmosphere and do their bit to remove carbon dioxide.

“Chopping down the trees would destroy 40 years of growth at a single step. The trees can easily be managed with some judicial pruning.

“This is a big decision and it needs to be decided by the full cabinet and not by a single member.

“People need to be given a chance to give their views on the trees.”

Mark Davies, chief officer (environment) at Lancaster City Council said: “The council places great value on the trees within our urban areas and the many benefits that they bring but those in Market Square are affecting businesses and visitors due to their sheer size, blocking light and obscuring buildings.

“A particular issue is that the lime trees are a haven for aphids that secrete ‘honeydew’, a sugar rich sticky liquid, on to the new surfacing below, causing it to become slippery in wet weather, and making it very difficult to clean.

“Pruning is not the answer as the new growth would attract even more aphids and make the problem even worse. It is also very expensive as it would have to be done regularly.”

Mr Davies added that seven new trees would be planted elsewhere in the city, and he would also assess whether some trees in planters should be placed in Market Square in the future.