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Help me fight my council

(26 Posts)
MsJamieFraser Sat 25-Jun-16 09:19:21

We live at the back of a forestry strip, which is maintained by the council, the council are aware the trees are massively in need of pruning, however they have no money... 6ft branches are falling from heights of 60ft into my garden and neighbours gardens where our children play, our neighbour cannot assess a third of her garden due to the sheer volume of overhang. However at 70 with limited mobility she cannot task herself.

I emailed the CEO, and 2 managers came to my property and said they can see it needs done, and there are dead dangerous trees but you guessed it they have no money... due to government cuts and now only have 4 men doing this trade in our local council.

My dh is masters degree educated in a similar role, and one of his skills is a tree surgeon, he can do this work and has said he will do what needs doing to our and my neighbours properties. However the council won't give dh written permission, the manager gave it verbally but at the risk of being fined massively dh won't touch the trees understandably.

In the mean time we cannot allow our children to play in the garden... Due to the trees shedding branches at great heights. One the other week thankfully landed on our neighbours shed, however 5ftbfrom where the kids where playing in the paddling pool.

I have no idea how to proceed with this...

Some photos just to show you

Palomb Sat 25-Jun-16 09:21:49

Your dh doesn't need permission to cut tree which are overhanging your property.

If he's a tree surgeon he should know that.

DameMargaretofChalfont Sat 25-Jun-16 09:28:44

Palomb is correct - your DH can legally cut back any branches to the border of your property.

However, from a legal POV, the branches belong to the council so your DH has to offer to "return" them before he throws them away,

MsJamieFraser Sat 25-Jun-16 09:37:26

No we know this, however the trees are 60 to 80ft high, dh will need to use safety gear to climb these trees, so that's where the issue is, we have cut were we can reach, and they are in the forest strip, dh says he cannot legally climb the trees.

This is the branch that fell from a dead tree around 40ft up.

insancerre Sat 25-Jun-16 09:43:14

If my children were at risk of being hit by falling branches and my dh had the necessary skills and equipment to cut them back, then he would just do and deal with any fallout later

Foslady Sat 25-Jun-16 09:45:58

Have you spoke to your TPO?

Jimbalaya Sat 25-Jun-16 09:47:19

In your situation I would write to your local MP who should be able to progress things with the council on your behalf.

MsJamieFraser Sat 25-Jun-16 09:54:17

Dh knows this area like the back of his hand, he was the housing association grounds maintence manager, yes that was who we had the meeting with, basically just said there was no money.

If the land belonged to the housing association it would not be an issue but it's council land.

We can't deal with the possible fall out, your looking at a maximum fine of £20,000 if caught and can even be prosecuted.

flumpybear Sat 25-Jun-16 09:56:05

Phone your local MP and make an appointment at one of their surgeries - unacceptable - your family are at risk!

JudyCoolibar Sat 25-Jun-16 09:56:18

Why can't your DH legally climb the trees?

TheNaze73 Sat 25-Jun-16 09:57:56

Why isn't your DH doing it?

charlestonchaplin Sat 25-Jun-16 09:58:25

They are concerned that if he falls and breaks his back you will sue them for negligence because giving permission to a non-professional to do such a potentially dangerous job would be negligent.

Your best bet is to write to them giving details of your husband's qualifications, stating that he takes full responsibility for safety and absolves them of all responsibility with regards to his safety. However, I very much doubt you will get written permission without having and providing details of his insurance to do this type of work.

People can be stupid, not just overconfident, and legal history has shown that an 'authority' can be held responsible for negligence even when they have put up clear notices of danger that were subsequently ignored. So you must be able to see that they can't give you permission to do something dangerous.

I doubt they will fine you, I'm sure you doubt they will fine you, you just want to be sure. You will just have to take the risk. If they are so stretched resources-wise, they are unlikely to even know that any work has been carried out on the trees. Just document the condition of the trees and the danger they pose with photographs/videos and notes before you start.

insancerre Sat 25-Jun-16 10:00:24

So the council don't have any money to cut down trees which could very easily cause death or injury but would have the money to pursue a court case if a qualified tree surgeon did the work for free?

MyNewBearTotoro Sat 25-Jun-16 10:03:47

Can you contact your local paper? A bit of public shaming/ pressure might kick the council into action.

Spartak Sat 25-Jun-16 10:04:48

I work in planning for a local authority and have quite a lot to do with trees and hedges.

Why do you think you will be fined? Who has told you that?

BaboonBottom Sat 25-Jun-16 10:11:59

I'd certainly do my neighbours. If the council complain she paid cash to someone who knocked on her door. Perhaps that same person visited your property?
Your not chopping it down (I'd think you were arse holes for that) just doing what your allowed, chopping the over hang.

Berthatydfil Sat 25-Jun-16 10:13:08

Can you write to them to say that these tress are a danger to your family and property due to their negligence in failing to deal with these trees and their falling branches, and I suggest your neighbour does the same and perhaps claims for her damaged shed.
Perhaps when they are faced with the risk of paying out for damages and injury caused by these branches or pay for the risk to be removed they will be forced to rethink their view

MsJamieFraser Sat 25-Jun-16 10:17:40

We fear we may get fined because of who dh is in his professional role, the men who came out know dh, (trying not to give to much info away)

So this is why dh wants it all above board, so there is no back lash, idea the trees need pruned and the dead ones removed, dh has said he will do all this, they have given him verbal permission but dh wants written, il contact our local MP today about it.

MsJamieFraser Sat 25-Jun-16 10:19:08

Bert we have done this, it's why they came out after I emailed the CEO and her PA directly, they know the trees are dangerous, they just say their is no money.

Spartak Sat 25-Jun-16 10:24:50

I don't understand about the fine. Are you in a conservation area of does the tree have a protection order on it?

You need to speak to the actual person responsible for the maintenance of trees who gave verbal consent. Ask them to email you while you are actually on the phone to them to give consent. If the email doesn't arrive within an hour or two then phone again. Involving the MP just puts in a whole load of layers of paperwork and bureaucracy. If you want some additional weight behind it contact your local ward councillor. The details of who it is will be on the Council website. They will probably know the actual member of staff and can walk into the office and speak to them. They also tend to be keen to help their constituents and they rely on a much smaller number of votes.

charlestonchaplin Sat 25-Jun-16 10:31:19

What offence do you fear you may commit? Is there an offence of tampering with council trees? If so, I would be very surprised if it applied in the case of dangerous trees. I think your husband is being unnecessarily timid. Your MP may be able to sort it, otherwise, document the condition of the trees and go ahead!

MsJamieFraser Sat 25-Jun-16 10:34:59

Spark, I've done all this, I've emailed and asked for confirmation and not just verbal, all have been ignored and I am now act tell being ignored, they won't even email back even for confirmation they have visited my property, only phone calls which I have now logged and detailed what was said, I even have a photo of them driving into my street and also leaving my street and even a photograph of them standing in my garden. Because they won't acknowledge anything by writing only in calls.

londonmummy1966 Sat 25-Jun-16 10:44:18

Go to see your MP with all your affected neighbours and get your neighbour to ask the Council to pay for the damage to her shed. You could probably also threaten them with preventing you from the enjoyment of your property as it is not safe to let your kids play in the garden. If you posted this in the legal thread someone could probably advise on this.

Spartak Sat 25-Jun-16 10:52:02

Threatening them with not being able to use your garden will achieve nothing.

If you are getting nowhere with the staff, I'd say your elected wars councillor is the way to go in the first instance. Ours have their contact phone numbers and emails on the Council website and they are generally quite supportive of getting things done.

I'd also say it's highly unlikely the Council would prosecute for cutting down the trees unless they are subject to a preservation order or you are in a conservation area.

MsJamieFraser Sat 25-Jun-16 10:54:53

I was just about to post what spark had said, threatning then with achieve nothing, I've contacted my councilior through Facebook asking if they are free for a chat during the week.

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