Council reveals it has spent £174,000 to plant six trees in Blackpool town centre

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The cost of planting another six trees in Blackpool town centre has been revealed as £174,000.

The eye-watering bill for foliage in Edward Street comes three years after eyebrows were raised at the £100,000 cost of planting 10 trees in Cookson Street.

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Conservative councillors have attacked the spending - but council documents reveal it was necessary in order to give the trees a better chance of survival.

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Trees have been planted on Edward StreetTrees have been planted on Edward Street
Trees have been planted on Edward Street

The cost has been met from the £7m government funded Quality Corridors project to upgrade town centre streets including resurfacing roads and improving shopfronts.

It was revealed following a freedom of information (FOI) request.

Conservative councillor Gerard Walsh told a meeting of the full council: "On two separate occasions I have asked for figures for Edward Street, both times these figures have been unforthcoming.

"It has taken a freedom of information request.

Trees on Edward StreetTrees on Edward Street
Trees on Edward Street

"In order to plant six trees in Edward Street, the total was £174,560. With the cost of living crisis, I ask is that value for money for the Labour group?"

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Council leader Coun Lynn Williams said the cash came from government grants which would go to other towns if Blackpool did not apply for them.

She said: "Are you saying you don't want us to apply to your government for that money for these schemes?"

She added: "We are going to carry on applying for grant funding for the town centre and we are going to have a green town centre.

Ten trees planted on Cookson Street in 2019 are thrivingTen trees planted on Cookson Street in 2019 are thriving
Ten trees planted on Cookson Street in 2019 are thriving

"It's about the structure we need and the longevity of it. It's a system that is being used across the country and I think Blackpool deserves the best technology to ensure we have a wonderful street scene."

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The FOI response says it cost £4,400 to plant six trees in Edward Street with the rest of the cost required to create an underground system ensuring the trees survive.

The response says traditional methods of digging out a pit and filling it with soil have "almost always resulted in failures of the trees.

"We had mass failures in the central corridor using this method and in many other locations.

"A tree really requires a full grass verge with deep top soil to give space and medium for roots to grow and for them to find moisture in dry conditions to allow the tree to survive.

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"This is particularly true in the windy conditions that Blackpool generally experiences."

The system used in Cookson Street and Edward Street has an underground framework rather than simply laying stone, concrete and sand through which roots cannot grow, thus allowing a more extensive growing area.

It is used in other locations such as in London and Liverpool.

Robert Gomm, co-owner of the Upside Down Coffee Shop on Edward Street, said he welcomed more greenery in the town centre.

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He said: "I don't have any issue with the money if it has come from government funding as we need more trees and greenery in the town centre.

"In the long term as the trees develop, they will add to the aesthetic of the street. I'm delighted to see more greenery."

The 10 trees planted on Cookson Street are all thriving three years after being planted.

The Quality Corridors project includes a £7m grant from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal and a further £791,340 contributed by the council.

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