A DEAD tree that prevents the full use of a footpath in Thornbury is a step closer to being axed.

Access around the sweet chestnut tree on Castle Street was debated at Thursday night’s town council meeting.

The pavement is only 33 inches wide from the tree to the roadside and the surface of footpath around the tree is uneven. Thornbury town councillors said they did not consider this a safe distance for wheelchairs and buggies that have to move onto the road in order to pass the tree.

The tree, and the footpath which runs beside it, are property of South Gloucestershire Council who have assessed the tree and said it is safe and in no immediate danger of falling.”

However, councillors expressed frustration at this response.

Mark King, head of South Gloucestershire Council’s street care department, said: “The tree is in a safe condition and not in danger of falling.”

Cllr Clive Parkinson said the majority of people in the town wanted the tree removed.

He said: “All sorts of people and various groups within the town want to get rid of the tree, and unless we take action nothing will happen.”

Twelve members of Thornbury Town Council voted to apply for the environmental grant from South Gloucestershire Council and the application was made on Monday.

Independent Cllr Graham Lanfear opposed the motion fearing Thornbury Town Council would have to cover with the balance of the cost.

He said: “It will cost about £3,500 to take the tree down and the environmental grant won’t cover the total cost. The grant will only allow £2,500 which means Thornbury Town Council will have to foot the remainder of the bill and the tree doesn’t even belong to us.”

But chairman of Thornbury town council’s environment committee Matthew Stringer said the town council would not have to pay for the removal of the tree and work to the restructuring of the footpath.

A South Gloucestershire spokesman said: “There is an opportunity, should Thornbury Town Council feel it necessary or desirable, to source a fund available through an environmental grant which can be applied for.”