Villagers in Scholes have vowed to fight for their landmark Coronation Tree to be given as much protection as possible, following a Council officer’s claim that it has ‘little historical importance.’
The issue prompted a lively discussion at the latest meeting of Barwick and Scholes Parish Council, attended by 18 local residents.
Leeds City Council’s Senior Conservation Officer, Matthew Bentley, told the meeting he had chosen not to include the Coronation Tree and the small garden in which it stands within a draft Conservation Area being proposed for Scholes.
“It is of interest but I was not convinced of its special historical interest,” he said.
But he said he was very willing to listen to the views of the village’s residents.
Adding the tree to the Conservation Area would require a ‘dog leg’ to be added to it and this might not be approved by the city council, he said.
Coun Norma Fletcher, a Scholes parish councillor, responded: “The Coronation Tree does have historical value.
“It is also a major gateway to both Scholes and Barwick and should be protected.”
“Everybody wants it protecting,” said village resident Mrs Karen Dales, who called on Mr Bentley’s support by saying: “Please protect it for us.”
Former parish councillor George Hall stressed that the support of villagers and of the Parish Council would be essential in ensuring that the tree is included in the plan and urged villagers to write letters of support.
He added: “I love my community and I am asking the Parish Council to take on board the feelings of the village’s residents.”
Coun Ben Hogan, Chairman, emphasised: “We are not in danger of losing the Coronation Tree at this stage but it is a well known gateway to the village.”
The Parish Councillors agreed unanimously to support villagers in calling on the City Council to ensure that the tree and its surrounding area are included in the draft Conservation Plan.
Mr Bentley said a public meeting would be held as part of a six-week consultation period.
An oak tree was initially planted at the junction in 1903 to celebrate the coronation of King Edward the Seventh.
It had to be replaced in 1928, when the present lime tree was planted.
Records show that on July 6, 1928, villagers placed historical items in a ‘time capsule’ beneath the roots of the tree, including coins of the realm and a copy of the local newspaper, which at that time was the Skyrack Express.