Cllr Karl Love shares this latest update on the future of the Umbrella Tree in East Cowes. Ed
Isle of Wight Council (IWC) gave their response to East Cowes Town Council (ECTC) about the Umbrella Tree’s future last week. Sadly the news was not what we had hoped for. We were given 14 days notice in which to respond and with the Easter Holidays this was difficult.
I appealed to Wendy Perera at IWC to extend this time in order for our town council to discuss the issue and respond. Wendy agreed to this which I am grateful for.
Town council wants tree to stay
Removing the tree is a highly emotive issue and ECTC concluded at the end of its debate and discussions with residents, that the tree should not be removed. They supported the people’s view of keeping the tree in place.
ECTC has invited IWC Officers and Cabinet member Cllr Ian Ward to a meeting to discuss the issues with the Town Council and Townspeople. I shall also make contact with IWC to explain the local context and explore solutions.
The IWC has received a Resistograph report from an independent tree specialist. The report basically advised the removal of the Umbrella tree, but also suggested an alternative, which would effectively cut out the crown of the tree leaving a tree trunk in place with no branches! Neither of these options were supported by the ECTC whom unanimously rejected both options.
An alternative diagnostic report was presented from a local resident who paid £90 for a laboratory test on the fungus. Another town resident with 30 years of tree experience and having the appropriate qualifications reported to the meeting that in his opinion, with careful pruning the tree could stand for another ten years, but would need regular inspections.
Trying to influence a positive compromise
The tree is the property of IWC and maintained by Island Roads. It is not in the power of ECTC to prevent the IWC from removing the tree, but we are engaged in discussions which we will try to influence a positive compromise for our town people and tree.
We still have an offer from the Forge at Whippingham to build a frame and prop-up the tree.
A People’s Tree
Island Roads have offered a replacement 3.5mt high tree but I suggest we should reject this offer in order for local people to consider the future.
If and when the tree needs to be replaced we would want it to be ‘A People’s Tree’ funded from community gifts and be mature in every way. This in my view would be for our townspeople to discuss and IWC and ECTC to support.
I remain optimistic and impressed with the passion and determination shown by our towns people and those who press for a dialogue to save the Umbrella tree.
This tree has stood through two world wars, played host to many a first Kiss and provided shelter on a stormy days.
It deserves every chance to live and remain.
Image: © Google Maps/Streetview