BOSSES at the Isle of Wight Council say they have 'no objection' to Island Roads' controversial plans to cut down East Cowes' iconic umbrella tree.

Island Roads said the tree was infected with a fungus "Inonotus hispidus" which undermines its strength — despite claims in an independent report produced by campaigners saying the tree posed no immediate danger to the public.

However, Island Roads said they were willing to explore options to try to prolong the life of the tree which was planted in the reign of Queen Victoria.

Councillor Ian Ward, the council's Cabinet member for Infrastructure and Transport, said: "I am delighted that the process being followed is presenting an opportunity for the key stakeholders to pursue options that may sustain the tree for a longer period of time, and I hope this approach will be welcomed by the local community."

An Island Roads spokesman added: "The safety of road users must be our absolute priority but we are also very conscious that this is a much-loved landmark tree.

"In partnership with the Isle of Wight Council and East Cowes Town Council, we will continue to explore options to prolong the life of this tree. As part of this we have commissioned a further detailed examination of the tree by an independent specialist the results of which will help us all reach the right decision in terms of public safety."