A BAN on neighbourhood groups planting trees could be overturned.

Five neighbourhood groups in Castle Point were told not to spend their £2,000 annual budgets, which are provided by the local authority, on new trees because of ongoing maintenance costs.

Three landscaping schemes suggested by residents of Canvey Island West have been scrapped.

One of projects being abandoned involved planting 40 trees and creating a community garden in First and Second Avenues, Canvey, to combat antisocial behaviour in the area.

But at a neighbourhood meeting, councillors motioned for the issue to be challenged by the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, which could overturn the ban.

Castle Point Independent councillor John Anderson said: “The council is leading us all up the garden path because this whole issue is just ridiculous. If the right tree is planted in the right area then they need little regular maintenance.

“Residents come to these meetings because it gives them the chance to plant trees and improve their local areas.”

Residents at the meeting said they feared the plans would leave Castle Point looking like a concrete jungle.

Dave Blackwell, leader of scrutiny committee, who runs Garden World gardening centre, off Canvey Road, Canvey, said: “If you take away the responsibility of this committee to plant trees, none will get planted.”

Mr Blackwell said the ban goes completely against the Government’s £4.2million tree planting policy, to plant four million trees across the country before 2014.

Mel Harris, head of partnerships and safer streets at Castle Point Council, said: “This is not the council saying it will no longer plant trees in the borough, just that we are not going to be using the neighbourhood budgets. The council has its own tree planting policy.”

Other schemes which have been cancelled include plans to plant trees and install benches at Tewkes Creek Recreational Ground, in Dovervelt Road, Canvey, and planting in St Michael’s Road, Canvey.