Remember 6.10.2011


What can you do while you’re waiting to hear what the next step is in either saving or destroying the Laman Street trees?

I hear Newcastle City Council was to tear the figs out today but have put it off. I have no idea why they’ve postponed it- or for how long; perhaps it’s a sign of good faith, while our lawyers finalise their advice and action – or maybe the contractor has a hair appointment.

What can you do now? How can you avoid that flat, sad feeling  that comes with watching a monumental mistake made by people who have been led by the nose by bureaucrats yet see themselves as leaders, in spite of exhaustive community campaigning?

You can tell people who don’t understand the issue what it’s really been about. Council’s $750 000 of (mostly) spin hasn’t been entirely wasted and there are certainly people out there who think those trees are scary. Remember, when they tell you that the trees are alleged to have ‘eccentric’ roots, there is very little in the literature that says this equates to root instability, You can find hundreds of articles that say this is not the case and a handful of articles that disagree.

You can still email your councillors and tell them how disappointed you are with them: we all know the names of those who voted against independent assessment but for easy reference here they are with their email addresses:

If you prefer SMSing or calling, their details are here.

I believe one of these Councillors described this issue as soul-destoying. He doesn’t know what soul-destoying is yet: wait till we watch those trees felled.

 And you could thank the steadfast councillors who have voted to keep the trees, manage them, and have independent assessment. Here are their details:

You can keep an eye on the street and let other people know if you see contractors arriving.

You can leave mementos in the fence – ribbons, cards, flowers, photos, fluffy toys, crosses, balloons, signs, flags, down at the corner of Laman St and Darby Street.

Say hello to the security guards who are gentle pleasant souls doing a boring job.

And you can make some memories that will last: have your photo taken with the trees behind you. Commit to memory the call of the family of  kookaburras who live in the street, the fig birds, the native cuckoo shrikes and the wattle birds, even the Indian mynah birds. If you get a chance before they fell the trees go for a walk in the evening and hear the bats fighting over the figs so you can remember that. Imagine the microbats whose call is inaudible but who are the cutest little things. Listen to the branches waving in the breeze and look up through the canopy and see how beautiful those trees are. Try not to think of the possums and sugar gliders who probably live there.

You may want to lodge a complaint about some aspect of the Laman Street issue. Here is a link to the complaints page of the Minister for local government. Or you may have a code of conduct issue against someone at NCC – that you would relay to NCC itself (ed). You need to read the code of conduct and make your complaint specific to that. You can download the code of conduct from this page.

And remember the names of the elected councillors who failed us all so badly. Ask yourselves why they refused to look critically at the evidence and why they refused to do an inexpensive review of the reports, why they work in a culture that thinks it’s Ok to pay $17 000 for legal advice but not OK to pay about the same amount (or less) to examine whether they are letting their staff arrange to rip out 14 healthy, sturdy trees without good reason.

Forty years ago we had a Lord Mayor called Doug MacDougall. He was on Council for several terms. All he is remembered for by many of us, in spite of presumably what were seen as achievements at the time, is his appalling management of the Birdwood Park figs. He or his bureaucrats arranged for the bulldozers to arrive to push figs down at 5:30 one morning. He who doesn’t learn from history is doomed to repeat it.  Home


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2 Responses to “Remember 6.10.2011”

  1. HG Says:

    Hello Caity, I have a letter for you after an inquiry I made is there a way I can forward it to you?

  2. Kate Jones Says:

    I just read the Herald report that stated that the figs will come down tomorrow and I’m devastated. I’ve been in Laman St today, sitting near the trees and praying that something could be done to save them. My first job after leaving University was in Laman St Library and I used to take my lunch break under the figs, listening to the birds. I’ve been visiting these trees for close to twenty years and I will miss them like friends. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to try to save them. What a sad day for Newcastle tomorrow will be!

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