A MARKET place that saw five mature trees cut down last month has seen five more trees make a brief appearance - before also being carted off.

Eagle-eyed residents of Thirsk spotted five young saplings had been placed over the stumps of the old trees earlier this week – but the spindly specimens were gone within a couple of hours.

Lesley Rolfe, who has been collected signatures for a petition in protest of Hambleton District Council’s decision to remove the trees without consultation, said she believes the trees must have been put there as a joke.

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“They were there for about three hours," she said. "At first I thought it was a terrible attempt at replacing the trees that had been lost but soon realised it was a harmless joke.

“However, there is a more serious side. The council is supposed to represent the local people, not just make sweeping decisions that no one can say a word about.”

Mrs Rolfe has already collected hundreds of signatures for a petition top be handed in to Anne McIntosh MP.

There have also been Freedom of Information requests submitted to the council asking for a copy of all health and safety complaints made about the trees; and the proposals for felling the trees.

A spokeswoman for Hambleton District Council said: “The priority at the moment is to complete the work on the cobbles in Thirsk, and then the flagged paving stones will be restored because there has been some lifting.

“Thirsk in Bloom are planning to get some new planters to be filled with yellow flowers for the Tour de France but they don’t want to plant them too early so they will be at their best in July.

“After that a group will be put together to discuss what to do with the area of the market place, and residents will be asked for their opinions.”