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Town council keeps castle tree report away from prying public

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Some of a town’s most revered trees may have to be removed.

Issues with the trees around the wall of Wisbech Castle have been raised following a specialist’s findings.

Wisbech town council, which rents the castle from Cambridgeshire County Council, discussed the report behind closed doors.

However, some trees are thought to have been described as dangerous and could undermine the historic wall of the castle.

They need removing.

Sources suggest the town council prefers to keep the issues at bay until after next May’s local elections for fear of the financial implications becoming known.

There is also an issue over ‘honey fungus’ in the part of the garden.

This is said to be a disease which can attacks plant roots and can also work its way through the soil to kill trees.

The full report was not released to the public.

However, an earlier council heard from Cllr Steve Tierney who “informed members that the (volunteer) Head Gardener at Wisbech Castle had expressed the opinion that some of the trees in the gardens may, because of their condition, require felling or “remedial” works.

“He made the point that, given the fact that Wisbech Castle is a Listed Building situated within a Conservation Area, there may be a need to obtain appropriate planning consent for works to the trees.

“Furthermore, such works may be costly.”

Minutes record that members were informed by Councillor Tierney that the (volunteer) Head Gardener at Wisbech Castle has a number of ideas as to future development of the gardens.

Members decided that

  • a condition survey of the trees at Wisbech Castle be undertaken; the Clerk being unauthorised to invite quotations for that work and to accept the one that he believes would provide the best value-for-money for the council
  • this committee would, in the light of the results of the survey at (1) above, agree an appropriate course of action in relation to tree management at Wisbech Castle; 2
  • the (volunteer) Head Gardener at Wisbech Castle be invited to produce a written proposal in relation to the future development of the gardens, for consideration at a future meeting of this committee.

In 2017 Wisbech Castle was transferred to Wisbech Town Council on a long lease with a peppercorn rent and £150,000 loan from the county council repayable over 25 years to carry out repairs and improvements.

The following year the town council agreed to raise its local precept by 34 per cent to pave the way for buying the lease of Wisbech Castle.

In 2012 the council raised their precept by 35 per cent to help finance acquisition of the lease of the Bramley Line (£10,000 plus £50,000 in legal costs but it never happened).

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