Our tree team don’t know how to prune so we’re going to chop all the trees down 8.7.2011


I’m away on holidays [so excuse the formatting of this post]but I’m told that at yesterday’s UPDAC meeting it was decided to recommend to Council to remove all the trees in Laman Street and start the $1.7million redevelopment of the street. The reason, it seems, boiled down to being ‘unable to prune Hill’s figs’.

It doesn’t really surprise me that this recommendation has been made as little that has happened to date has given me hope that the trees would stay and very little that Council management has presented has been based on complete evidence or investigation. This is just another example.

The work of carrying out the December Council resolution to keep what are healthy trees with decades left in them fell to the same Council management team who have spent several years trying to convince Councillors and residents alike that the trees are unsafe. 

I don’t believe they ever had any intention of retaining the trees. We seem to have two chief arborists now in spite of the retirement of one last year and instead of bringing in new expertise this seems to have doubled council management’s resolve to remove these trees.

It’s obvious to the person in the street that these trees are sturdy. 

It’s obvious to anyone who has read Council’s reports that they’re flawed since they’re based on Council misinformation that trees failed in the Pasha Bulker storm. Not a single tree failed then and it’s difficult to understand why Council staff told external consultants that they did.

Not surprisingly, this management team have been unable to change their focus and have recommended to Council’s Urban Planning committee (UPDAC) to fell all the trees in the street.

Management came up with recommendations to prune the trees after Council’s insurer bizarrely put pressure on Council to resolve the issue and then the arborists said to the committee that Hll’s figs can’t be pruned so they’re to be taken out. This is only true if you have no will to seek out experts with this pruning ability and have failed to encourage your own team to gain such knowledge.

The same core group of Council officers were responsible for the charrette, in 2010,  which to most Laman Street campaigners included only inadequate and biased information on the health of the trees; they were responsible for a delay of many months when they should have been implementing Council’s legal and valid resolution,but were not, and the same team were responsible for inflating the publicly released quote for the cost of scientifically assessing the trees’ stability.

As this is an issue on which elected Councillors are fairly evenly split, half the Council won’t be upset by this recalcitrance. Newcastle people can’t believe that this issue has not been resolved. How will elected Councillors or voters feel when one of their resolutions or issues meets the same fate as the Laman Street figs?

We pay these people to look after our city. It’s shameful how they have approached it and a full investigation needs to be carried out into why they have failed to do what elected councillors directed them to do and that they are legally obliged to do. Home

The War Memorial Cultural Centre 1957 from Council Photo Bank


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5 Responses to “Our tree team don’t know how to prune so we’re going to chop all the trees down 8.7.2011”

  1. Justine Says:

    It’s unbelievable that Council staff would lie like that about the trees in the Pasha Bulka storm. I have photos of the tree that fell in Civic Park during the storm, and it’s definitely not a fig.

  2. Sherilyn Says:

    Mike Jackson is the only Councillor who is yet to decide how he will vote on July 19th. Before he votes, it will be 6 a side, with Shayne O’Connell likely to vote for retention. Cr Jackson has, at this stage an open mind. Could someone please give him the information indicating gross flaws in the methodology and peer assessment being used to condemn the figs? To have the trees reassessed through the more accurate testing could influence his decision making. Strong factual evidence is needed.
    Surely the community must now see that this process is all about vested interests. I believe the employment/business affiliations of the UPDAC commitee and the Councillors and relevant Council staff, need to be made public. Community members supporting the retention of the figs have no fiscal motives, only social/cultural ones!

  3. ArchitectGJA (Ed) Says:

    It was very difficult to watch Cr. Cook’s 12 minute theatre-of-the-agenda video that the Herald posted from his newly created YouTube channel.

    It makes no sense that Cr. Cook was a member of the working party, created by Council with a charge to save the Laman trees, when he was so determined to have them destroyed. From reports available for other working party members, Mr. Cook did NOT follow the charge of the Council, rather he worked his own agenda to have the trees removed while hampering efforts to save them.

    I am not swayed by the theatre of someone quoting convenient snippets of information, heavy with acronyms to add scientific weight, while waving copious copies of paperwork in the air and claiming that these are the only “facts”, and blaming the tree-saving efforts of others for the cost to the Council.

    These facts have been challenged by other qualified professionals, at best they can be deemed “disputed facts”. Claims that there were Laman Street tree failures in the Pasha Bulker storm are false: the trees failed because they cracked the pavement and were cut down. Every windstorm gives further evidence that the trees are not at a point of imminent failure, despite reports claiming so.

    When it comes to reports from experts and professionals in any given field, and let me make this very clear, this in not an accusation of any misdeed by those who have provided such reports for Laman Street, a report can be misleading based on what the expert was asked to provide.

    If a professional is asked to create a report to show everything that is salvageable and valuable on Laman Street, that report will differ greatly from one where the objective is to show everything wrong and problematic. Yet the writer of the report is being honest in each case.

    So, were the reports generated for Laman Street written with an eye to prioritise and protect the underground cables, protect the pavement from cracking, ensure tree roots are never an issue?

    Or were the reports generated based on the Council’s December vote to save the trees? I somehow doubt that they were.

  4. ArchitectGJA (Ed) Says:

    One further thought: When the insurance company coincidentally chimed in on Laman Street and insisted the trees are too problematic to insure, did they specify any other trees in Newcastle that were uninsurable? Have they reported uninsurable trees in the past in Newcastle?

    If not, does that mean the Laman Street trees are the only unsafe trees in the entire City?

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