NEWLY planted fruit trees were snapped in half by vandals, sparking fury from volunteers who helped plant them.

The apple, pear, and cherry trees, in Priory Park, were planted last autumn as part of Southend Council’s campaign to plant 1,000 trees over three years.

Council bosses have insisted the 14 damaged trees will be replaced at the earliest possible stage and a probe has been launched into the incident.

Ervin Ritok, who helped plant the fruit trees, believes children may have caused the damage on Sunday.

The 36-year-old, from Southend, said: “I was devastated and completely heartbroken.

“Half of the trees had been snapped in half, the others were damaged or torn out. It’s such a shame.

“The planting season is over now, and doesn’t start again until the autumn. Nothing can be done until then.”


The trees were situated next to a play area in the park.

Steve Moor, executive director of neighbourhoods and environment, said: “We are aware of damage caused by vandals to some of our fruit trees at Priory Park.

“Our arboriculture team are currently investigating this and will clear up any debris.

“It is extremely disappointing that vandals have attacked our trees because it ruins the enjoyment of the park for other people and delays new tree plantation.

“We will look to replant trees during winter of the next planting season.”

In October, Extinction Rebellion launched a campaign to double the number of new trees planted in Southend.

The council is planting an additional 1,000 trees over a three-year period and it is in the second year of this programme.

Carole Mulroney, councillor in charge of planning and environment, added: “It’s desperately sad that what was a good collaboration with community groups and a really worthwhile scheme enhancing our borough has been cruelly vandalised for no apparent reason than the opportunity for mayhem was there.

“I don’t understand the mindset and I feel for the volunteers and our officers who have seen their hard and dedication to improving our environment being so carelessly retreated.”