Members are asked to consider the referral at appendix 2, along with representations from Cllrs Wadsworth and Richards, in order to determine whether or not to schedule detailed scrutiny of this issue later in the municipal year.
The report of the Head of Democratic Services presented details of a referral that fell within the Board’s remit. The letter requesting that the Board undertook a review of the Council’s Tree Management Policy was appended to the report
The following were in attendance for this item:
- Councillor P Wadsworth
- Councillor L Richards
- Councillor S Arif, Executive Member
- Sean Flesher, Chief Officer for Parks and Countryside
Councillors Wadsworth and Richards were in attendance to support the referral that had been submitted by themselves and colleagues. The following issues were highlighted:
· The tree canopy of the city needs to be increased.
· Concern regarding the urban tree stock including those in parks, along the highways or in private ownership.
· Concern regarding delays to trees being removed or pruned where they are causing damage to properties and this work being sub-contracted out.
· Concern that trees on private land which are covered by Tree Protection Orders (TPOs) but causing damage will not be removed by the Council.
· Damage to footpaths caused by tree roots.
· The need to manage trees more effectively in urban areas.
· The need to work with local residents.
· The need to plant the right types of tree in the right places.
The Executive Member and Chief Officer for Parks and Countryside responded. The following was highlighted:
· It was recognised that the right trees needed to be planted in the right places and a rigorous process had been implemented to ensure that this would happen and there would be no longer term issues with current trees being planted.
· There were systems in place for tree management based on a risk assessment approach.
· Funds had been allocated from the Housing Revenue Account to assist council tenants who had encountered problems with trees.
· There was a dedicated contact for Elected Members for tree related issues.
· The Council was only responsible for trees on Council land or where there were genuine safety issues caused by trees on private owned land.
· The importance of trees in improving air quality and providing shade.
· Initiatives for increased tree planting along highways and the White Rose Forest Project.
In response to Members comments and questions, the following was discussed:
· The need for a more strategic approach to the maintenance and planting of trees and the need to do more consultation with local residents.
· Concern regarding the planting of whips which had been subsequently removed by residents.
· Concern with trees on highways causing problems for residents which included problems with blocking sunlight and root damage.
· Concern regarding the need to manage self seeded trees and the lack of funding and staff to do this.
· Whether it would be more appropriate to have an update or further briefing on Tree Maintenance rather than a full scrutiny inquiry.
· Concern regarding the loss of mature trees for cycle lane which were replaced with whips.
RESOLVED – That Board members would like to consider this issue in further detail outside of the meeting. The Chair and Executive Member agreed to agree the appropriate next steps in relation to the request for referral and communicate that to the Board.