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Labour's tree-mendous failure

May 2, 2016 9:37 AM
By Wendy Taylor

Tree maintenance in Newcastle is fragmented, under-resourced & not fit for purpose, writes Wendy Taylor. That's not just our view, but the view of Council officers dealing with this important service! As a tree owner, Newcastle City Council has a direct responsibility to make sure its trees do not pose a danger to the public or property. To address the risk the Council must have a process for inspecting trees &undertaking any necessary work, but it's failing to adequately fulfil this duty.

In 2007 under the Liberal Democrats there was a tree team of specialist officers & a single point of contact for queries. We recruited a large group of voluntary tree wardens from the public, who checked trees in their area & reported any concerns. Inspectors carried out regular checks for disease & decay, an adequate budget for tree maintenance & the system worked very well.

Since 2011 when Labour took control:-

The tree team has been scrapped

The £100,000 annual budget for tree replacement has been scrapped

Routine maintenance budgets have been severely reduced.

The tree specialists have been cut from 12 to 7 posts

The tree inspectors have been cut from 2 to none, so when a concern is raised there is often no-one to check what work is needed.

Requests for work often go un-answered & communication is poor

The tree policy, which is many years out of date has not been re-written

Proposals 2 years ago to deal with these issues were not taken forward

Trees have a huge number of benefits on the environment, for wildlife, for reducing flood risk & for improving the appearance of residential areas & it's a disgrace that Labour Councillors have failed to protect our trees. We know budgets are tight, but the Council could & should be working with partners such as the Woodlands Trust & Groundworks to improve resources. This is also one of the services that could easily be shared with other local Councils to reduce costs. We are calling on the Council to review the tree maintenance service urgently & put in place a responsive & efficient service.

Pictured : Years ago a tree was removed. The council said it would be renewed. Nothing has happened. Residents, who have offered to plant one themselves, still awaiting permission

Lack of tree after years