A spring day 21.9.2010

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There was to be a briefing to councillors on ‘road and asset maintenance services’ at tonight’s council meeting. I was sorry I couldn’t make – the family will continue to need a mother sometimes and work will make demands on one: gets in the way of treehugging, I can tell you – it as I would have been interested to see if tree root pruning got a look-in. (See ‘Root pruning in Swan Street.’)

A few months ago I would have been able to see some point in contacting councillors about this. Now I see there is actually no point.

What else is worth hearing about: there have been four vigils, starting on Saturday. Having interested residents in the street available to explain the issues to anyone who wants to hear about this issue. Many of us are more than happy to keep going to enjoy the street as often as possible. Every evening between 5 and 8 there will be people in front of the library in Laman Street. The weekend will be nice, with photo ops and  kids and dogs. Bring bubble blowers and fluffy toys and ribbons and candles. And some optimism would be nice too.

There was some to-ing and fro-ing yesterday afternoon about barriers around the trees which kept some council workers busy; we were grateful that council sent ‘compliance’ officers on overtime each night to keep us safe and to fine the coffee van on Saturday night. Nice to know that council is about $250 richer and the streets are so much safer. Well done.

There are some videos worth having a look at: the Wauchope figs which were saved then not then saved again are gorgeous and have involved issues that are very reminiscent of the Laman Street issue. This is an interview with two women who have tried to work with council to save their trees. And there’s a lovely video made in Newcastle called ‘8 Stupid Reasons to cut down Nice Trees’   which show our lovely fig trees surrounded by their stupid barriers. And the latest, which brings tears to my eyes, is ‘Does Civic Park Really Need Fixing?’

Our legal people have been just fantastic as have our arborists. I can’t thank any of them enough. None of us can. They have put so much time in to help us.

I think one of the saddest aspects of this 10 months has been the blow dealt to community consultation. Stupidly, I actually thought that community consultation was a real thing. What an eejit. I won’t fall for that again and I know a bunch of people who feel the same way.

The hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on working out how to get rid of these trees has been such a waste: for the community, at least. I suppose council officers see it as money well-spent. Imagine if they had said, ‘We want to chop down your favourite big trees because we think you shouldn’t have big trees in streets any more and because we want to fix some pipes.’

I suppose this way arboricultural fashions can change: no more big trees in streets. Who’s going to complain if we take them out early? And good old Newcastle started it. And secondly so we can fix a drainage problem no residents even knew existed. ‘Required new drainage works on the north side of Laman Street could not be implemented’ if one of the options they came up with at the post-charade stuff was implemented. (Council memo.)

Did I share the fauna report with you? It’s here: Fauna NCC_Laman_Street_Figs_s5A_assessment.2 This may be the second one since one of our council officers on July 27th 2010 told our Greens councillor that NCC had done a fauna assessment, but in the one I mention, the assessor made his first visit to the street on August 13th 2010. This is the only one I can see on NCC’s website. Feel free to point me to another one. I have written to the General Manager for an explanation of this timing. I’m yet to receive a reply.

Anyway, have a peaceful week and if you live in Newcastle, go to Laman Street. I, for one, am trying to work out how to get from my place to the CBD without seeing Laman Street once these trees go. It will be a challenge. Home.

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