A COUNCILLOR has demanded a radical overhaul of a busy Southend city centre road junction to spare a “magnificent” 150-year-old tree from the axe.

Leigh Green councillor, Richard Longstaff, has backed a campaign to save the London plane tree, affectionately named Chester, from being felled in Chichester Road.

The tree, which has been branded a “danger to pedestrians and drivers” is positioned in the middle of the pavement close to the junction with Tylers Avenue.

In an effort to save the tree, Mr Longstaff has called for the pavement to be expanded, a lane in Chichester Road removed, and a no-right turn rule introduced at the junction with Tylers Avenue.

A campaign group has launched a petition and submitted a tree protection order application to Tylers Avenue to see the tree saved.

However councillor for highways, Kevin Buck, has claimed “alternative designs would not be viable”.

Mr Longstaff said: “My proposal is to turn the junction into one lane and widen the pavement, the tree doesn’t need to come out.

“It is a 150-year-old magnificent tree. We can build buildings, but we can never build a tree, it will take three generations to bring that tree back, people do not understand that.

“Myopic leaders cannot think around it, they are not designers and there is a chasm between what must be done, which is what my tree motion was all about.”

The councillor has called for all tree felling to be paused until a working party has been set up.

He added: “There needs to be a moratorium on all tree felling until the tree working party has been set up unless the tree is dangerous and at risk.

“Until the working party is established, there should not be any tree felling.”

The tree would have been felled under plans to build 58 new homes on the old Churchills site in Chichester Road, but the plans were rejected by Southend Council last week.

Southend Tory cabinet member for highways, Kevin Buck, said: “Alternative designs for the junction would not be viable in my view. Discussions regarding a working party on tree felling are ongoing.

“However, it’s crucial to emphasise that the council is legally obligated and has a civic duty to uphold the safety and functionality of its highways and all public assets.”