HIGH winds toppled a tree across a road, bringing cars to a screeching halt.

The tree had fallen across a section of Braintree Road, near Shalford, which dipped downhill, meaning it was difficult to see from far away.

Eyewitness Rachel Sanders said it was lucky the tree did not kill someone.

She said: “I was on my way home from Wethersfield to Shalford when the incident happened. It was a bit scary as it was extremely windy and I had seen the trees hanging over the road the week before.”

She added: “I came to an abrupt halt in the road and there was a car in front of me. There was a massive tree fallen down fully across the road. There was another car on the opposite side on the road also. They telephoned the fire brigade.”

Rachel said the tree fell seconds before she arrived at the spot, at around 4pm on Saturday, August 10. She added: “It was extremely lucky no-one was killed.”

Rachel said she did not know who was responsible for maintaining the trees at the time and tried to report it to Braintree Council via its website.

A council spokesperson said: “This should have been reported to Highways as we only deal with trees on our land.”

Since learning this, Rachel says she has reported other overhanging trees along the road to the Highways website, to avoid similar close calls in the future.

However, she maintains that instructions about where to report such incidents could have been clearer on Braintree council’s website.

To that, a council spokesperson said: “We will take this comment on board and look at how we can better reflect what is a Highways matter and what is our responsibility.”

Chris Lane, communications manager at Essex Highways, said residents could report overgrown trees at essex.gov.uk/highways.

He added: “If they think it is about to break and is dangerous, please call us on 0345 603 7631.

“If they can let us have an exact location, such as a landmark, sign, distance from a junction or anything or a photo, that would be very helpful for when the inspector goes out there to check.”

The fire service was on the scene within minutes to chop up the debris of the fallen tree and clear the obstruction.

Rachel thanked them for their speedy response.