Cosmic irony


The planets were out of alignment this week.

Got soaked through at netball – should have taken an umbrella but that blue sky will fool you every time – and the teams continued to play in pouring rain for ten or fifteen minutes while the admin people presumably had a cup of tea in their office. Once they’d washed up and looked out the window they let us go home.

We walked home past fig trees that will be gone in the not-too-distant future. Once council officers convince the elected council to agree to remove the Laman Street figs their hardest fight will be over and they will be able to start on all the other mature figs in the city. After all, that’s a sustainable urban forest and a risk-averse local government approach. No large trees.

There’s an article in yesterday’s Herald, ‘Fig feud has Newcastle councillors in a jam’ that sums up what is so often why these battles – trying to save mature or veteran street trees – are lost. People start to feel worn down and bored with an issue. We’re just not made to keep something up for very long. Instinctively, one strives (or falls towards) an easy life.The page has a link to other stories on the issue.

The rock in the Herald story that fell off the cliff onto a beautiful beachside drive was obviously a scary business. No one was injured but they could have been killed. The sad thing is not that the rock was left there for two years but that it is still not possible to drive down that road. Sydney can get a $37 million park (see ‘Is this our ugliest streetscape?‘) paid for by development money and we can’t get funding to engineer a safe cliff on one of our most valuable tourist attractions.

The rock lying there – as a reminder of how Council Knows What’s Good For Us – was mimicked this week when barriers went up around the fig trees in Laman Street. These will stay there for two weeks.

This is how long it takes to find an arborist to assess the safety of a tree which had a root cut when Hunter Water cut and removed a 100mm thick root. In spite of having an arborist on council.

One can only assume that the team at the Water Board who cut the root have no idea of the controversy going on. They said there were so many roots around that tree that they didn’t believe it would be a problem. The spokesman acknowledged that they’re not arborists and that there are times when they call for risk assessment but on this occasion there seemed to be minimal risk because of the sheer number of roots in the area.

I made some phone calls to Newcastle council to clarify what their media release was saying. (I’ll get back to you with a link: for the first time ever NCC’s website seems to be down.) I had some help from a lovely lady at council, but only after going through a few defensive staff: ‘Who are you and where are you ringing from?’ was asked each time. As though it matters. Interesting culture of one’s first instinct being to reveal as little as possible.

The water board, on the other hand, couldn’t have been more pleasant, even when the people I was talking about knew nothing about my problem, and even though it was almost 5pm on  a Friday.

Since council have alleged that the problem with the trees is the roots, they will have had a celebration with the cosmic irony of a root being cut. They allege that a single 100mm root cut was the reason a tree fell in Tyrrell Street – but, of course, an eyewitness says the entire root system was cut through.

He who has the loudest voice and the most patience will win.

 And I found a sad article about bullying at Newcastle Council. So it’s not just the residents being tortured. Home


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One Response to “Cosmic irony”

  1. Ali Says:

    sat july 31, 2010 newcastle herald article in print, re laman st figs has the heading “make up your minds” the story imo basically focuses on similarities re the indecision over the “rock” (reportedly 3 years before action was taken) along with some other items under the heading “The Dither File”. While i agree that the indecision & approach of NCC is in many ways very embarrassing, i do also question some of the quoted figures re consults over Laman st Figs eg the claimed $70.000 on 2 day community workshop? From what i gather those supportive of retaining the Figs were highly critical of the actual amount of time & opportunity provided to discuss Laman St Figs. Indeed the workshop was predominately a whole of Civic precinct workshop.
    I also have heard much criticsm of NCC (& hopefully have sifted through some political grand standing by particular Councillours.) However the icing on the cake for me remains what I personally witnessing directly. At the risk of repeating myself..The NSW Governors Marie Bashir’s government car was safely parked for those several hours under the Laman st Figs under the watchful eye of NCC Mayor & mates.
    Honestly either the Figs are a serious threat to safety or they are not! & if we believe the spin ,alledgedly the risk is greater at night?! Well Mayor Tate if its such a bloody risk why did you allow the Governors car to remain “illegally parked” for so long at the recent opening of a Curious Colony? To actually see dignitaries blatantly ignore their own bellowing beat up over risk, remains for me a rude awakening to the hypocritical crap dished out by local politics & particular politicians! As already quoted elsewhere Winston Churchill once said “Governments may do what they like , ….but the people must like what they do”!

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