CAMPAIGNERS are fighting to protect a cherished 100-year-old tree which Southend Council has branded a “danger to pedestrians and drivers”.

Protest group, Southend Tree Action, is demanding the London Plane tree in Chichester Road is saved.

The protesters have submitted an application for a tree preservation order to Southend Council.

The tree, affectionately named Chester, is positioned in the middle of the pavement and Kevin Buck, Southend councillor for highways has said it poses a threat to health and safety.

The London Plane Tree would have been removed under plans to build a 14-storey block of 58 new homes on the old Churchills site in Chichester Road, but the plans were rejected by Southend Council last week.

Southend Tree Action Group, which was part of a three-month long sit in at a tree in Rochford, fear the tree remains at risk.

A spokesman for the group said: “The planning did not go through for the Churchill’s site and although everyone voted for the tree to stay, we do not feel we have been given and indication it is safe.

“We have put forward a tree protection order for the tree, which we named ‘Chester’, we are looking to have him saved from highways.

“We are trying to save him regardless of the development and we are taking all actions we can, we have made an online petition, and we created a paper petition at the tree.

“We put it online so that everyone can sign,” the spokesman said.

Mr Buck is adamant the tree must be axed in a bid to protect residents and vehicles using the road.

He said: “One of the issues with the tree is that the tree is not even on the inside of the pavement, it is in the outside and the trunk is adjacent to the road, so it presents a hazard to large vehicles like buses and lorries.

“It is presenting a challenge to keep the tree and what is important is it is just not what you see on the surface, the tree roots will reach as far the width of the canopy of the tree.

“I don’t like to see a tree removed more than anyone else, but the council has a duty and responsibility to manage safety in a way that it has to in its authority.

That means occasionally a tree has reached the end of its life as a highway tree.”