Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Tree Mend Us Disruption

Kingston Council has identified what is describes as 'potentially dangerous trees' near Malden Green in Worcester Park.

Unfortunately I don't have any details on how they identified that they were potentially dangerous - no doubt some kind of complex psychological profiling was deployed. Or perhaps intelligence was gathered by Special Branch (fnarr fnarr fnarr..).

Urgent work is scheduled to start this Thursday (23rd September) to remove/defuse/or otherwise calm down these dangerous trees.

The worst part is that as the works will involve use of a crane, temporary traffic lights will be regulating the traffic on the Malden Road from Thursday for the duration of the works (which are expected to last up to five days).

Traffic chaos, anyone?

32 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

The Dutchman said...

If Special Branch were involved, I'm surprised they didn't twig there was a problem earlier.


Father-Of-Chops said...

They house these trees in close proximity to pubs, in a borough where unemployment is at a 5 year high, they give them no social support network and then act surprised when they become anti-socially dangerous to the general public and cause disruption to the local area. Its disgraceful I tell you! Kingston should be ashamed.

[stats source: Disruptive Behaviour Disorders In Alcohol-Dependent Adolescent Perenial Woodland Plants - Father-Of-Chops, PhD thesis 2010]

Lord Cynic of Lindsay said...

It's not funny - beautiful, mature trees are coming down.

Chloe said...

we've had a traffic update email at work saying the work has been "cancelled due to unforseen circumstances" - no mention of when it might be rescheduled for.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Lord Cynic of Lindsay - don't think the felling of (increasingly rare around here) mature trees is a subject for amusement - I note the council say they are only "potentially" dangerous - I'm wondering how cautious they are being and whether the trees really are a risk to public safety or it's just another case of health and safety gone mad!

Minigee said...

I hope this does not mean they are going to cut down any of the beautiful poplar trees which line the Malden Road near the station.

Lord Cynic of Lindsay said...

I have suspected for a number of years that Kingston Council is plotting to remove ALL of the mature poplars which line the Malden Road approach to the station. At least one falls down in high winds every year or so and I think they would be glad to get rid of them to avoid damage claims. That is my theory and I think the time is looming - it could explain why many trees have been back planted, to alleviate the shock to the landscape of their removal.
I don't believe Kingston Council have a tree-planting budget - they certainly didn't a few years back. All new trees are paid for from local funds. Correct me if I am wrong someone.
Apart from the windfalls, a few of the larger poplars have been clandestinely cut down without replanting, steadily eroding the distinctive character of this avenue of Lombardy Poplars. I assume they are planning to remove them piecemeal year by year using the "potentially dangerous" label.

Minigee said...

I fear you may be right Lord Cynic. The two trees which stand at the entrance to the Manor Drive have white Kingston Council notices pinned to them. I haven't had a chance to go down and read them yet, but I expect it's a death sentence. It infuriates me how shabbily the poplars have been treated over the years. I have known them all my life and love them. They are both beautiful and distinctive.

Anonymous said...

To be fair to the evil tree destroying Council, they probably don’t have much choice if the trees are unstable. Lord Cynic says that one falls down every year in high winds- well doesn’t that just prove the point? Imagine the uproar if one flattened a passing car or pedestrian- they’d have their pants sued off (and we’d pay through our council tax). The root (sorry!) cause is the litigation culture imported from the states. “health and safety gone mad” culture is just an inevitable response to this to protect public funds from the lawyers. I don’t like it either but it’s just the reality the Council has to deal with.

PS the interweb has just told me that Lombardy Poplars lifespan rarely exceeds 20-50 years so perhaps they are now just naturally coming to the end. I don’t think there’s much the Council can do about that!!

Minigee said...

Looking a little more closely at the condemned trees they both have several large branches which look unstable. I wouldn't want to stand under them in a high wind.

But Lord Cynic is right. When other poplars have been damaged or felled by high winds the council has removed them but not replaced them. And over the years there has been no sympathetic maintenance or pruning. If there had been a commitment to maintaining this avenue of trees then the two poplars in question would be in better shape now, the missing trees which came down in storms a few years ago would have been replaced, and our lovely avenue would be around for years to come. It wouldn't have taken a great deal of forethought - oh, but it would have involved employing an actual tree surgeon, rather than the butchers who 'prune' the trees in the Manor Drive area once a year.

And if anyone is wondering where the money could have come from, well, see p4 of this week's Kingston Guardian!

Anonymous said...

I’m intrigued as to what’s on page 4 as I don’t seem to get the Guardian anymore- does anyone else still get this delivered free by the way- am I missing out?!

Anyway with the spending cuts I suspect there’ll be even less money around in future for tree surgeons. The trees have been CON- DEM -ed. But now Sutton is officially leading the vanguard of the Big Society isn’t this the sort of thing we are expected to do ourselves? Anyone got a chainsaw?

Anonymous said...

In response to Minigee's claim of trees being 'butchered', if it wasn't for drastic pruning each year (as done on the Continent), many of our street trees would get beyond a manageable size. By pruning hard, these trees will put out fresh, lighter growth which can be cut back annually, preventing them getting too big. Look at the London Planes in Windsor Road that get a VERY short-back-and-sides yearly. They don't mind.

Lord Cynic of Lindsay said...

I understand that 21 (yes, TWENTY ONE) of the distinctive Lombardy Poplars are to be felled. Very few will remain. The character of the approach to Worcester Park from Malden will be decimated. Black arm bands at the ready.

Anonymous said...

If it is 21 for the chop.I cannot see Kingston Council paying for the replacements(unless its in their contract to maintain the land)maybe the owners of the land (one of the colleges at Oxford if my memory serves me correctly)Or do we get out the collecting bowl for monies from the residents?

Chloe said...

Received a notice at work from Kingston Council today - the works to remove the trees at Malden Green will now commence on the 25th October.

Anonymous said...

Uh oh... The Ents are not going to like this.

Jacey said...

Drives me mad, whether Sutton are more likely to cut trees down for the sake of it I don't know. Walk around the streets and you'll see so many missing. I know these are considered unstable but hopefully they'll plant new ones. We need trees!

Anonymous said...

I read the notes on the trees earlier, and they basically say the trees 'may' be internally damaged due to evidence of some kind of fungus at the base of the trunk.

I don't think that this amount of trees, which will undoubtedly decimate the once lovely and unique approach to Worcester Park, should be done if there is no definite answer as to whether they actually need felling!

Can't help but suspect ulterior motives. Lets just say I won't be surprised if, in a year or twos time, there are no trees, but a butt load of houses along there instead.

jeff said...

WOODMAN SPARE THAT TREE! More than anything else, that avenue of Lombardy Poplars is Worcester Park's iconic landmark and it looks like they're being felled for administrative convenience. I can't believe that 21 of them have suddenly turned dangerous overnight just because a few toadstools have been discovered growing on the base of some of them.
That's what the notice on the trees says! I think Kingston Council are pulling the wool over our eyes and are going to vandalise Malden Road on a flimsy excuse. We need a second opinion - and a stay of execution.

Rick said...

Can anyone remember as far back as 1968, when this part of Worcester Park flooded? ... Well how about 1981, when the same locality flooded again? ... Well, how about 2007, when the same area flooded yet again?

Even if you can’t recall these events, your local MP certainly can, as he’s published the above dates on his website. He also states that 8 months ago, he was to "Thrash out Solution to Worcester Park Flooding".

Mr. Burstow continues: “It is two and half years since the last major flood and residents are getting fed up waiting … I hope we can see a low cost solution that will offer residents the protection they want”.

Well, I can’t easily find his update on the subject, so could it be that cutting down 21 mature water-guzzling trees is his promised, if quirky, literally 'thrashed out' solution to the flooding?

Rather than set up a committee and/or hire a team of consultants, to discover how much water 21 Lombardy Poplar trees drink, I quickly looked on the web: Estimates vary wildly, but it would appear to be in the region of 100 gallons per tree, per day.

This suggests that courtesy of Kingston Council, over 2,000 gallons of extra water, per day, is soon to begin to collect in an area already prone to flooding.

On the plus side, I learned that the Lombardy Poplar is a derivative of the Black Poplar and being a member of the willow family, it is a particular thirsty tree, is particularly resistant to pollution, is particularly suited to the British climate, and as an indigenous species, is particularly suited to supporting many types of native wildlife.

In short, it’s the kind of tree you’d expect any outer London MP or councillor with the smallest interest in the environment to be seeking to preserve, plant or replace, rather than seeking to destroy.

Mr. Burstow’s records only go back to 1960, so we’ll have to speculate why so many water loving, pollution tolerant native trees were planted in that particularly wet area, next to a major road, in outer London …

… However, the black poplar are also known to have one other quality: to be particularly TOLERANT OF FLOODS … which might even give an extra clue why so many were planted in a renowned local flood zone?

According to weather records, next month is the wettest time of year in London, so residents of Green Lane may wish to consider that the next time they are transformed into wetland, not only will most of the water drinking trees at one end of their flood zone have been removed and replaced by the ever enlarging Hamptons development, but that most of the trees at the other end were simply removed.

Perhaps pressures of work afford Sutton’s and Kingston’s councillors and MPs with only enough time to endlessly bombard us residents with directions and instructions in sustaining the local environment, which leaves them with no time to read, digest and understand their own apparently empty words?

Jeff said...

I DON'T BELIEVE THE POPLAR TREES ARE SO SICK they need to be axed. I've looked at the bases of them for signs of this 'fungal disease' that the notices claim is the reason for their destruction and could find hardly any sign of it. It's also significant that the notices don't mention that TWENTY-ONE trees are to go and don't give a contact point for anybody wanting to object.

The points about increased flooding that Rick makes in the previous posting is a further powerful argument for their retention quite apart from their amenity value.

There's only one week to go before the chainsaws start their destructive work. I've sent an e-mail to environment@rbk.kingston.gov.uk saying that many local residents are asking for a stay of execution and for a second opinion from a real tree expert as to the condition of the trees. I also said that if the trees are cut down and inspection of the stumps indicates the trees are NOT hollow (as claimed on the notices) then the person responsible for making the decision is guilty of Gross Misconduct.

The more people who e-mail environment@rbk.kingston.gov.uk with objections, specially the increased flood risk aspect, the better.

Andrew said...

Very well said, all of you.

I have emailed kingston as suggested, and i hope everyone else who reads this blog does the same.

We need to stop this action!

Andrew said...

Although the auto-response said the enquiries will be logged within 10 days, which is too late!

Jeff said...

QUESTION OF SOON-TO-BE-AXED AVENUE OF POPLAR TREES RAISED AT COUNCIL MEETING!David Fraser, one of the three local councillors for Old Malden ward, is raising the question of Worcester Park's threatened Poplar trees at tonight's meeting of Kingston Council. He went out today and obtained almost 40 signatures on a petition calling for the felling of the 21 trees to be put on hold pending an opinion from an independent tree expert as to their true condition. Let's hope he's successful - I'll let you know what happens.

Anonymous said...

i found the same problem so i phoned on 02085455757 and asked for environmental services.they advised upto 14 trees were affected and replacements could be planted if there were funds.and as we are aware that is highly unlikely in the present climate.

Jeff said...

NO REPRIEVE YET FOR OUR AVENUE OF LOMBARDY POPLARS. But in reply to Andrew and Anonymous: despite the auto-response that says replies to enquiries take up to 10 days, I had a reply today which said that they are asking their tree officer for more information.

So the more people who lodge an objection with environment@rbk.kingston.gov.uk
the more chances we have of preserving that magnificent avenue of trees on Malden Road leading to Worcester Park.

Remember, what we're calling for is a postponement of the trees being felled, whether 14 or 21, and a second opinion given by a qualified tree surgeon.

Also I understand from Councillor David Fraser that a Surrey Comet reporter was present at the Council meeting yesterday when the issue was raised so there should be something in the next issue.

If they cut down those trees and inspection indicates that they WEREN'T hollow we will have lost Worcester Park's major visual landmark for nothing!

blondie said...

I get the feeling that people on here think that Kingston Council are having these trees cut down for the sake of it or that they haven't consulted a tree expert before making the decision. They have a qualified tree expert working in-house, why should they spend our council tax paying for another expert just because some non-experts don't believe him?! Imagine the uproar if one of these diseased trees keeled over and fell onto a child (or anyone for that matter)

Jeff said...

MEETING ON MALDEN GREEN TO DISCUSS AXING OF WORCESTER PARK'S ICONIC AVENUE OF POPLAR TREES! The Big Chop is still scheduled for next Monday 25 October - but local councillor David Fraser tells me that Kingston Council are sending their tree man along to discuss this issue with concerned local residents. The meeting place is adjacent to the Poplars on Malden Green, Malden Road (just along from Worcester Park station).

The time is 8 a.m. (yes, you read that right 8 a.m.) this Monday 25 October and the more WP residents who turn up and make their views known the more chance we have of saving the Poplars. Otherwise they'll be cranking up the chainsaws shortly after and that magnificent view will be no more.

So please try and make it despite the early hour and tell your friends and neighbours.

Anonymous said...

blondie, not so many years ago, a certain local council cut down a large number mature trees alongside the River Thames for no other reason than to improve the view of the river for residents of a new estate, built on newly sold land. As a result, voters were outraged and that council changed its political colours at the next local election.

Residents are right to question the wisdom of this new decision, until they've been given the full evidence, which they still have not - there are many types of fungus, many completely harmless to both trees and humans!

Additionally, the trees are on land that would be very valuable if the trees were cut down and the land sold for, say, building another new estate?

blondie (or perhaps councillor blondie?) If you want to blindly accept that 21 trees on a very lucrative plot of council land have suddenly become a huge problem, that's up to you, but some of us are still capable of independent thought and have a memory longer than that of a goldfish!

Anonymous said...

6/7 hardy residents including the Surrey Comet rep arrived at 0800 and no sign of 'the man from the council'. the contractors arrived still no sign of any council representation.
at least the contractor spent some time explaining the problem ,but he couldn't comment on whether Kingston were going to replant.
so where was the person who could comment!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

anoymous 22oct,
well said,but i think as previously advised Malden green is owned by a university not the council. but Kingston Council has to 'maintain'the area under some contract with the university. shame the local councillors or officers didnt turn up at this mornings meeting.

Anonymous said...

The felled trees will be replaced. THERE IS FUNDING.
The bases of the trees so far felled show a great deal of 'ROT'.
So well done Kingstons Tree Office.

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