Oh it always seems to go, like you don’t know what you’ve got. Till it’s gone […] Took all the trees […]
Update: As promised, the matter was raised at the Ward Meeting to-night. There was a great deal said about the issue of Amey’s liability, and some agreement that this liability has become more of an issue since Amey took over from the Council in managing the trees. However, in the end it was agreed that the councillors would ask for more safety tests to be carried out. We will update further when we have more info.
Update 2 This is very depressing but ‘elf and safety’ have won. As you may have already noticed, the tree now has an execution notice on it. Whether or not you feel that a 77 year old tree with no history of accidents (Not counting the old damage to bark on the tree, but what actually happened there no-one seems to know, presumably it was hardly noticed at the time) is an serious safety risk and must be therefore chopped forthwith we will leave up to you. We have done all we can. We also leave you to celebrate the promised planting of two thin young replacement trees if you so choose.
Ten years of the Focus Group. Mindful of the advice of Joni Mitchell we saved the Green and all the trees on and around it, when the Council had decided to get rid of The Green and all those trees in 2004. Yay … It is now just four days after the ten-year party. We haven’t had long to rest on our um laurels (or should that be horse chestnuts leaves?) this week. We have just had some shocking news. Amey want to chop down this tree on the Green. It is a healthy tree, but Amey say:
Health is not the issue here, highway obstruction is the issue that we are obliged to deal with.
The tree has been hit by vehicles a few times over the years. We have been sent a picture, see left, of what is described as ‘the historic damage’: old scaring on the tree trunk.
We have also been sent a picture showing the lean on the tree. Of course there’s a lean. Any Acocks Green person will tell that there has been a lean for a very long time. The branches on the tree which are on the road side of The Green already appear to have been lopped, some time ago.
However, if there is ‘historic damage’ – and the mind boggles here, are we blaming William the Conqueror, or was this something to do with The Wars of the Roses – if there is ‘historic damage’ why was the tree not chopped down back at the appropriate moment in history, whenever that was? Why now? That has set us thinking. At the Acocks Green Ward Meeting in June the Amey Tree Officer who attended said that since Amey took over from the Council, looking after our trees, the approach is more aggressive than in the past when a decision is made over whether to keep a tree or not ‘because of potential legal problems’. In other words Amey is not prepared to bear the liability of being sued for damages. In fact a Birmingham City Council 2012 documentHighways Maintenance and Management Services in Partnership , a Report of the Transport, Environment and Scrutiny Committee, 2012 notes:
With the transfer of liability for claims there is an incentive for Amey to carry out repairs effectively and as soon as possible, as well as to manage claims that are made. (p. 5.)
It sounds rather as though the Scrutiny Committee thought this was really cool? Amey takes the blame, and pays for the claims after things that go wrong when they didn’t carry out ‘repairs’. That means that we, the citizens of Birmingham don’t have to? Excellent … so how do good old efficient Amey make sure they don’t have lots of claims to pay for when it comes to trees? They send someone round with a clipboard to make a note of any tree that is leaning a bit, and has a bit of ‘historic’ damage on it? Out it comes?
Amey, we might reflect, are not in the business of knowing and recalling which suburbs care about their trees, and make a fuss if they are taken out. They have no loyalty to any suburbs in Birmingham. They have loyalty to their shareholders.
The Amey Tree guy claimed that Birmingham was now no worse than a lot of places when it came to such matters. So, does everywhere do things like this these days? Well no. Bloomsbury, in London, does it like this (And the damage on our tree probably came from a bus: it needs a high vehicle.)
Finally, is it time to remind both Amey and Birmingham City Council of some of our own ‘history’? We don’t like it when people take our trees out. Especially (feedback we have already received on this development confirms this) we don’t like it when people take out what is now the biggest tree on the most prominent landmark in our village,The Green, when that tree is healthy.