PROTESTERS are set to bring one of Southend’s busiest roads to a standstill as part of a march to save a beloved 150-year-old tree.

Southend Tree Action Group will be leading campaigns down Chichester Road and Tyler’s Avenue later this month.

The march, at midday, will see protesters dressed in tree costumes with banners, placards and drums.

The protest aims to raise awareness over a London plane tree, which has been named Chester, and is believed to be under threat.

Senior councillors have called it a health and safety risk and the tree was previously under threat as part of plans to convert the former Churchills building into flats.

A spokesman for Southend Tree Action Group said: “We are marching from Chester to the Civic Centre on March 23 to highlight the popularity of what we are fighting for and the strength of getting people together.

“We originally started as part of Sheffield tree action group. We have been losing trees at an alarming rate in Southend and we have seen councils removing their trees everywhere.

“We believe this has to do with austerity and cost-cutting measures. They are not actually trying to preserve their trees, they are taking the easy route.

“We formed because of this and because we have lost more than 3,000 trees in ten years. They cannot keep removing our lungs and taking our mature trees.

“Replacing them with saplings just won’t work, they are different, they aren’t taken care of, and they often do not survive long enough to replace the mature trees.”

Southend Tree Action Group previously became established after taking part in the Rochford Bloor homes tree sit in, which saw protesters camping in an oak tree, fondly named Cecilia, for four months and their recent protests look to regain that level of impact.

A spokesman added: “We are drawing in groups from other areas, drummers particularly, and if people wish to join it will be family friendly.

“We want as many people as possible to join to show what trees represent and how much they mean to Southend.”

The protest takes place at 12pm on March 23.