Eastbourne council defends removal of ‘diseased’ hedge

The site of the removed hedge

The site of the removed hedge

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THE CONTROVERSIAL removal of a hedge at a picturesque seafront spot has been defended by the borough council.

Last week Eastbourne Borough Council announced the hedge at Helen Gardens was diseased and needed to be replaced.

Since then the hedge has been removed, provoking an angry response from residents (see Herald letters page 6).

The council has been accused of “vandalism” and ruining the appearance of the area.

Residents have also accused the council of removing the hedge to make way for a proposed cycle path.

In response to the criticisms a spokesman for the council said, “Any suggestion of a link between the removal of the diseased hedge and provision of a cycle lane is wholly wrong.

“The hedge was showing the early signs of succumbing to the Euonymus scale insect, a pest that has been responsible for destroying hedges on Eastbourne’s seafront for nearly a decade.

“The aggressive disease will spread if it isn’t tackled quickly.

“The council’s parks and gardens team have dealt with hundreds of metres of similar hedges since 2003 when this disease was first noticed.

“This work has included the removal of hedges in Helen Gardens in previous years.

“The original intention was to trim the hedge back as it was overhanging the footpath. However, having discovered the disease, and in line with best practice, the solution is to replace the existing hedge with a different variety that is less prone to attack by the Euonymus scale insect.

“Whether the cycle lane goes ahead or not the hedge needed replacing and that is the work that is being undertaken.

“The intention is to maintain the superb seafront greenery and protect our parks from further encroachment by this particularly nasty disease.

“The new hedge will ensure that we maintain a pleasant boundary to this important open space.”