FRUIT trees which were planted by the Burton Civic Society to mark its golden anniversary have been vandalised and burned – in an act labelled as ‘deplorable’ by members of the group.
A number of young trees in the orchard had branches removed, before they were set ablaze on a patch of land nearby.
It is thought the vandalism took place earlier this week.
Valerie Burton, president of the civic society, told the Mail: “It’s absolutely deplorable.
“We put those trees in there for the benefit of the community.
“The whole idea was that people could come along and pick their own fruit when they were established.
It was initially thought the trees may have been pruned by staff at East Staffordshire Borough Council, but a spokesman for the authority confirmed that was not the case.
Lawrence Oates, of Burton Conservation Volunteers group, which helped to plant the trees, said roughly 12 of the 50 trees had been damaged.
“I think they didn’t know what they were doing. If they had taken the dead ones, they would have been easier to snap off,” he said.
“The orchard is a good thing – to provide free fruit for people and to be producing food in town.
“We need to do more of it in future.
“On a more positive note, there are still quite a number of trees down there that are fine, and hopefully over the next couple of years they will be bearing some pretty good fruit.”
Some of the trees had already been killed off by flooding.
The orchard was planted last February to mark the 50th anniversary of the civic society, with one tree put in for every year the group had been in existence.
It was hoped that it would attract more people to the Washlands area, as once the trees have matured they will be able to offer fruit for passers-by.