Is cull of Sidmouth leaves and conkers just bonkers?

ICONIC autumn leaves and conkers in scenic Sidmouth beauty spots will be swept up then burned or composted in a bid to halt the spread of a lethal tree disease.

The traditional sight of fallen foliage from horse chestnut trees in the Byes could become a thing of the past, according to East Devon District Council (EDDC).

Defra chiefs want leaf fall from the trees to be collected to stop the spread of bleeding canker disease – a deadly ailment that leaves trunks oozing and covered in sores.

Families who walk through the park every day described the potential loss of a bounty of fallen leaves and conkers as “sad”.

Concerned mum-of-two, Karen Bond, 40, contacted the Herald when a district council worker told her that horse chestnut trees in the Byes would be chopped down because they posed a health and safety risk.

However, an EDDC spokesman said: “The truth of the matter seems to have been warped through Chinese whispers.”

He added: “Defra has contacted councils and land owners requiring them to collect and burn or compost all leaf fall from horse chestnut trees to try and stop the spread of bleeding canker disease.

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“It sounds like we’ll be obliged to collect and either compost or burn the leaves from all horse chestnut trees on our land.”

Mrs Bond, of Malden Road, walks through the Byes every day with children Coco, two, and Oscar, four.

“They love picking up conkers and leaves and playing with them,” she said.

“We’re lucky, because we live in such a beautiful place. For me, leaves on the ground is British, it’s Autumn, it’s what its all about and it should stay that way.

“It’s sad children aren’t allowed to grow up and see all the things we grew up playing with.”

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