EAST Cowes' landmark umbrella tree could be saved after all.

At a meeting of the town council this evening, (Thursday) residents broke into spontaneous applause when an independent report commissioned by the council stated that the tree could last another 25 years, if remedial work was done to prop it up.

The tree was planted more than 100 years ago by Queen Victoria's road manager, along with an identical tree which was planted in Cowes.

The Cowes tree on Prince's Green was felled after it became diseased and the East Cowes tree was also under threat because it suffered from a fungal infection.

The infection was identified in a report commissioned by the Isle of Council's PFI contractor, Island Roads.

However, residents questioned the validity of the report, and members of the town council commissioned a further, independent survey to see 'once and for all' if the tree could be saved.

A petition to save the tree attracted 1,277 signatures with a further 852 people signing the petition on line.

Dame Judi Dench and wildlife campaigner, Chris Packham, also called for the tree to be saved.

During the meeting, the independent report confirmed that the tree was suffering from a fungal infection but that the tree could be supported if a metal new framework was built around it.

Cllr Karl Love cautioned that the decision to retain the tree still remained with Island Roads and the Isle of Wight Council.

However, he said: "I now believe we have a strong case to retain it."

For more on this story, see next Friday's issue of the County Press.