CALLS to turn Southend High Street into a tree-lined shady oasis has been ruled out over fears it could hamper emergency services.

Southend Council had been urged to consider planting a run of mature trees in the High Street to provide cover during the summer.

Resident Simon Gittus, in a question to Southend’s full council, said there was “little shade cover with not a single tree down the main street itself. He said during the summer heatwave people were forced to “sit on the ground behind the non-functioning bollard control units just to get some shade.”

Mr Gittus urged Tory councillor responsible for the environment, Meg Davidson, to consider planting some trees.

Ms Davidson said getting more trees into the city centre was a “priority” but said the council’s hands were tied.

She said: “Increasing tree canopy across the city is a priority but Southend high street presents some specific legislative and practical challenges.

“The council is required to ensure that there is an appropriate fire path for emergency vehicles, as trees start to mature this becomes increasingly challenging to do without damaging either the emergency vehicle or the trees.

“Planting trees in close proximity to utilities increases the possibility of damage to tree root structure and is therefore something that the council seeks to avoid where possible.

“The tree planting at Victoria Gateway has provided helpful insights as to the best ways to support and maintain trees and the trees at this location have a significant number of drainage crates beneath them and this is not something that can be successfully replicated along the length of the high street.”

Ms Davidson added that pop-up parks were a possible measure to tackle dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Kursaal ward independent councillor, Tricia Cowdrey said: “The idea of small pockets of greenery, bringing colour and life to underutilised areas is lovely but, in terms of trees, a lot of trees have been cut down and we are still seeing more trees being cut down.

“I would be very for any scheme that brings greenery back to the high street and I’d like to get my motion through calling for a moratorium on cutting trees.”