A LANDMARK tree in the main residential housing area of Lyme Regis has been cut down after it was found to be badly diseased.
The horse chestnut tree on a triangle of land at the junction of South Avenue, North Avenue and Manor Avenue was held in affection by many residents, often used as a meeting point and where children enjoyed collecting and playing with conkers.
Magna Housing said they had no option but to cut down the tree, after town council works supervisor Pete Williams raised concerns about die-back in the canopy.
Rupert Harrison, contract supervisor for Magna Housing, said: “We dispatched one of our contractors to investigate, and the tree was found to be badly diseased. The tree had significant bleeding canker in the base with associated fungal brackets. Horse chestnuts of this age rarely survive this extent of disease.
“We have a strong ethos of public safety when it comes to trees, and have them regularly inspected. The position of this tree meant it was designated it as ‘very high risk’, due to proximity of public thoroughfares and dwellings. This required us to take swift, but regrettable action, to remove the tree.
“This in itself required significant logistics, as we were required to hire a hoist to remove it safely. The felling of the tree revealed the true extent of the rot, which had completely eaten away the whole centre of the base of tree.
“I have much sympathy with locals who have affection for such trees, but sadly, this tree was just too far gone.
“On a positive note, we have a very strong ethos of protecting and preserving trees at Magna, and it is written into our tree policy as such. In fact we continue to work with local groups to plant new trees in many of our common areas.
“We also plan to plant extra trees this year, to honour the Queens Platinum Jubilee.”
Trees poisoned by public
Dorset Council has noticed an increase in damage being caused to its trees by some residents across the county, including in Lyme Regis, which is a criminal offence.
On each occasion, the culprit appears to be trying to poison and kill the tree so that it will have to be removed. Apart from this being illegal, there is a wider safety issue of the tree becoming unstable and either it, or its branches, failing and damaging property or even causing injury or death.
Trees have been poisoned in Woodroffe Meadow, Lyme Regis, as well as in Bridport, Weymouth, Sherborne, Corfe Mullen, Alderholt, Sturminster Marshall and Blandford.
Dorset Police have been informed of all the locations where such vandalism has been found and they and the council will monitor these sites for further activity.
If you have any information which would assist with investigations, contact the council at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your personal details will not be made public.
Anybody caught deliberately damaging council trees will be taken to court where they are likely to receive a large fine and could be subject to a criminal record.
Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: “This indiscriminate and selfish action is putting others at risk. It’s one thing to attempt to kill a healthy tree for personal benefit, but quite another to endanger people and property while doing so.
“There must be local residents who have seen and/or can identify the culprits and we would welcome any information which would enable us to pursue prosecutions.”