|Lancaster Market Square. Photo: John Freeman|
The campaign to save Lancaster Market Square's lime trees (#savelancasterlimes) from the chop is gathering pace, with Charter Market traders joining the protest against the idea.
Lancaster City Council's Cabinet will discuss a proposal to remove the trees on Tuesday 19th January at 6.00pm at Morecambe Town Hall - an idea which is being opposed by hundreds of local people, with nearly 1000 people signing an online petition in protest.
|Cat Smith's letter to the Chief Executive of the City Council, challenging the proposal|
Local MP Cat Smith has also written to the Council's Chief Executive Mark Cullinan, questioning the proposal.
Trees are an important part of our urban landscape, for health and aesthetic reasons," she commented in an online statement via her Facebook page. "I have asked the Council for more details about any safety risk they pose and for assurances that if the trees are removed they can be replaced appropriately with more suitable trees for our urban environment."
Campaigners have been told they now need 200 physical signatures for a petition that will be presented to the Council, a number that will mean the proposal will then have to be debated by full Council and not just the City's Cabinet. They will be collecting signatures on Saturday morning in Market Square. (You can download a copy of the petition and get your friends to sign here - then take it along on Saturday. If you can't get there, email Cherry Conovan on c.canovan1ATlancaster.ac.uk and she will organise collection of completed petitions)
Charter Market traders were canvassed this morning not one was in favour of the tree cull proposal by the Council's Environment Officer Mark Davies that will be presented at the meeting to remove the trees.
The proposal has attracted support from some but not all members of the business support group Lancaster BID, which is chaired by Paul Cusimano, owner of Joseph+Co, which has St Nicholas Arcades Manager Jerry North as its Vice Chairman and run on a day to day basis by BID Manager Liz Hickingbotham, who was a founding member of the Lancaster City Retail Group within the local Chamber of Commerce and Events & Marketing Assistant, Rachael Wilkinson.
Members of Lancaster BID that might have an interest in the look of Market Square include Elston Holdings Ltd, owners of Market Gate Shopping Centre.
The proposal cites £11,000 additional costs of cleaning the Square because of the trees as one reason for their removal and concerns at slippage, mainly caused by honeydew deposits, a sugar rich sticky liquid that aphids secrete when feeding on leaf sap. This drops and makes street surfaces beneath very grimy and, at certain times of year slippery in wet weather. In phone calls with residents, Mr Davies has claimed that the figure quoted would cover the cost extra four jet washes of the Square every week - even though the aphids that create the honeydew are active for just two months in the year.
On their Facebook page, the Council has said the cleaning costs are an estimate based on rising costs in tree care as the existing trees mature, as well as additional associated street cleaning.
Campaigners have countered "slipping issues", arguing that the paving used for the Square Routes refurbishment is the major issue and have asked that if these trees are culled, would others follow on the same basis. They have also offered alternatives to cutting the trees down.
"As a 70-year old who walks down Market Street frequently I want to say that the resurfacing is much better than the old surface - it is only slippery in wet weather when there are seeds or other detritus on it," said one VL reader on first hearing of the plan late last year. "The trees add greatly to the ambience of the area and should only be removed if they make it unsafe."
"The Council would do well to pay attention to research carried out in Lancaster," commented reader Andrew Walker, referring to Lancaster University research into how trees cut down air pollution.
"Here's an idea. If the leaves cause a slip hazard, sweep them up," added local business man David Chandler.
"I appreciate there are cut-backs to Council services but they find time to plant thousands of flowers on roundabouts, so I'm sure a quick sweep isn't beyond them."
• You can sign the petition here on change.org - but only the physical petition will count if you want to see the proposal debated by Full Council. Signatures are being gathered on Saturday morning in Market Square
• You can download a copy of the physical petition form and get your friends to sign here then take it along on Saturday. If you can't get there, email Cherry Conovan on c.canovan1ATlancaster.ac.uk and she will organise collection of completed petitions.
• Read our Open Letter to City Cabinet members about the proposal, challenging some of the claims made in the report
• Read our report on the petition launch here
• All the documents relating to the proposal can be found here in the agenda for the Cabninet meeting next Tuesday, 19th January, but if you just want to read the proposal it's here and a background documents offering the views of named local councillors (who oppose the idea) and anonymous members of Lancaster BID who support it, that's here
Do You Think Cutting Down Market Square's trees is a Bad Idea?
• Lobby your own City councillor
• Write to the City Council's cabinet members and tell them what you think. They're all Labour members (sadly, Labour voted to get rid of the trees when this was originally voted on).
• Eileen Blamire, Labour (Current Chair - can have casting vote if votes tied) : firstname.lastname@example.org
• Janice Hanson, Labour (Vice Chair. Holds the portfolio for this decision, so she'll present & hold sway) email@example.com
• Abbot Bryning, Labour: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Darren Clifford, Labour: email@example.com
• Karen Leytham, Labour: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Richard Newman-Thompson, Labour: Richard.email@example.com
• Margaret Pattison, Labour: firstname.lastname@example.org
• David Smith, Labour: email@example.com
• Lobby Lancaster's MP Cat Smith: 01524 566 551 or 01253 490 440 email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter @CatSmithMP
• Want to get a quick response from Lancaster City Council? Tweet and include the twitter handle: @LancasterCC hashtag #savelancasterlimes
• The Council's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lancastercc; there is already a discussion thread about the proposal on their Facebook page here
• There is a Facebook group for the discussion about the trees here
• Complain to the council officer recommending and responsible for their removal direct, Mark Davies, Lancaster City Council's chief officer for the environment. Call him on 01524 582000 – ask for him specifically.