Newcastle City Council has been slammed for providing a “not fit for purpose” tree maintenance service, the Chronicle Live has reported.
Since 2011, the city’s tree team has been scrapped and the £100,000 annual budget for tree replacement has been axed.
Routine maintenance budgets have also been reduced and the number of tree specialists have been cut from 12 to seven posts. The tree inspector roll has also been abolished.
Now, the Liberal Democrats have called on the council to “urgently” review its tree maintenance policy.
Lib Dem councillor Greg Stone said: “Tree maintenance in Newcastle is fragmented, under resourced and not fit for purpose.
“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 and undertaking any necessary work, but it’s failing to adequately fulfil this duty.”
The Lib Dems have argued that a possible solution would be to recruit a volunteer team of tree wardens.
Coun Stone added: “We know budgets are tight, but the council could and should be working with partners such as the Woodlands Trust and Groundworks to improve resources.
“This is also one of the services that could easily be shared with other local councils to reduce costs.”
He said: “The Lib Dems can’t see the wood for the trees on this one. The fact is we have a team of seven arborists and are training up another three from horticultural services to do this important job.
“Like many others, this service the council provides has suffered cuts but this is mainly due to the massive budget cuts dealt to councils under the last Lib Dem Conservative Government.”
Coun Kemp said that there are an estimated one million trees in the city, with the majority in countryside areas that don’t pose any risk.
He added: “In an ideal world, it would be nice to spend more money on this service but the council is under severe financial pressure and can’t do it on its own.
“That is why we are looking at co-working with horticultural and arboricultural organisations to provide this service.”
Residents are asked to contact the council immediately it they believe a tree is posing a risk in their neighbourhood.
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Image courtesy of The Chronicle Live