Thoughts from other people 19.8.2010


Fee Drelincourt from the Laman Street Action Group was incensed by Newcastle City Council’s plans to help the community ‘celebrate’ chopping down  the history of the Laman Street figs. She said in her media release:

In a telephone conversation yesterday (18/08/2010) a Newcastle City Council representative indicated due to the sensitivity regarding the impending loss of the iconic Laman Street Hills Figs that NCC would be holding events prior to the trees being destroyed to ‘celebrate’ what the trees have brought to the civic precinct and to allow for the community to ‘grieve’.

 Given the Council has continually ignored the views of the community this is tokenistic and insensitive. To date there have been over 3,000 local residents who have signed a petition to keep the majestic trees. Not to mention 50 participants of the expensive community design workshop that NCC commission in March this year, where the overwhelming majority of participants clearly argued if the trees did have to be replaced that a staged removal regime with replanting of two rows of avenue producing trees be implemented. Council has made a mockery of the ‘community consultation’ process with such blatant disregard for public opinion.

 Tuesday night’s Ordinary Council meeting showed the community how little they are valued.  Council has spent the past 12 months giving nothing but lip-service to ‘community consultation’. To find ourselves in the exact position that we were in this time last year, faced with a decision to go ahead with whole-of-street removal is devastating.

 The original decision was rescinded to allow for appropriate ‘community consultation’ to be undertaken. It is clear to those involved in the process right from the start that NCC have constructed a campaign of fear. The issue of safety regarding the Laman Street trees is highly contestable.  …An Environmental Engineer from the University of Newcastle, stated that ‘key aspects of the report are fundamentally flawed and it should not be used as the basis of tree removal’.

 He stated that “the report contains a mix of fact, speculation (that is not backed up) and just plain fiction; this is not a document that should be relied upon.” 

Newcastle City Council has added insult to injury with suggesting that they understand the sense of loss and betrayal that the community feels. The Council has shown blatant disregard to community input and has made a mockery of ‘community consultation’ processes. In spite of community opposition, Council are insistent on the trees’ removal.

 Given the agenda and constructed ‘fear/safety’ campaign of the Council, perhaps a token gesture of understanding the community’s sense of betrayal is all that they are capable of.’

And Jacqueline from Saving our Trees website in Sydney has written a post about Laman Street: you can read it here. All her posts are really interesting – my favourites are tree News and report from the gallery, both regualr features – but this one’s dear to our hearts.

Laman Street figs made the Herald editorial today:

When the figs fall

SOME people won’t be happy with Newcastle City Council’s decision to take the axe to the Laman Street fig trees. But councillors, strongly advised by city staff that the trees were unsafe, were under pressure to make a decision one way or another.

Now that they have weighed in, narrowly, behind the opinion of the council officers, the councillors must ensure that whatever replaces the lost green canopy is aesthetically pleasing.

The loss of the trees is saddening, even for those who accept the safety argument. Failure to restore Laman Street to at least something of its former glory would be a civic tragedy.’

And what council officer bought a cartoon about Laman Street from the Herald? I rang to buy a copy of it myself – a sad cartoon calling Laman Street “Lament St” – and had been pipped at the post by one of the organisers of the planned tree felling. More tomorrow. Home



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One Response to “Thoughts from other people 19.8.2010”

  1. Ali Says:

    NCC Community Consult =Community Insult!

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