ANGRY residents claim their town centre’s character has been destroyed after three mature trees were axed by Tendring Council

The chestnut trees, in Millennium Square, are popular with residents and shoppers visiting the town’s market.

But residents were shocked to see contractors chopping down the trees on Tuesday morning.

Tendring Council said trees were suffering “significant die-back” and could pose a risk to pedestrians and cars.

Ruby Morris, from Third Avenue, Walton, was left outraged by the move.

She said: “What I witnessed was extreme vandalism.

“Tendring Council contractors cut down three old established trees in the market square. What is the point? They are in full leaf and have been standing there for many years.

“I phoned the council, but the person who is apparently responsible for this terrible act, was not available.

“Nobody was aware of this event.

“Plenty of people are furious as they stand there helpless to do anything.

“Why were the local people not invited to comment and protest at this shocking decision?”

Alan Moore, from Walton, was also shocked to see the trees being removed.

He said: “It will change the character of the town.

“In just a few hours the trees were gone and just the stumps remain.”

Walton councillor Delyth Miles said she was not aware the works were to take place, but that she had been informed a year ago that the trees - which were not covered by Tree Protection Orders - were suffering from dieback.

A spokesman for Tendring Council added: “The trees at Walton High Street car park have been removed as their trunks were decayed and there was significant dieback in the crowns.

“If left this would have compromised the safety of pedestrians and vehicles in and around the area.

“Our staff, who recently attended these trees during recent high winds as a result of concerns raised by the public, will have checked the trees prior to the work commencing.

“If nesting birds had been present, the work would have taken place later.

“At this time it is proposed to plant replacements at nearby locations at a more appropriate time of the year.”