A proposal to agree that no further street tree planting should take place in Seaford Town Council’s name by Seaford Tree Wardens has been deferred.
The council agreed to identify alternative sites for tree planting such as private gardens or public open spaces.
Residents turned out in force at the Community Services Committee last week (Thursday March 21) to support street tree planting.
But for now the tree wardens will need to wait for the council to investigate the tree planting which has already taken place and whether any more should continue in the streets.
The council argued that the tree wardens had gone ahead with tree planting without putting the scheme before the council and were therefore not covered by the council for insurance liability.
But the tree wardens said they had much contact with the council and asked the council if it wanted a presentation and this suggestion was not taken up.
Tree warden Margery Diamand said: “As tree wardens we did what we thought we were supposed to do.
“If that was wrong we are sorry, but getting into an argument about what was done when and how is counter productive.”
In the council report it said: “The planting of street trees presents many undesirable risks for the council which in the opinion of officers should not be accepted.”
The report cited long term responsibilities for maintenance and surveys, complaints from neighbours, potential claims of liability if accident or injury occurred, utility damage, footpath or kerb repairs as concerns.
Tree wardens at the meeting argued the cost of maintaining the small trees they had planted was very low.
They added they had only used trees from a prescribed list from East Sussex County Council which were deemed suitable for street locations. They had also sought permission from the county council to go ahead with the plantings.
But the town council said for some street tree planting locations, due to the proximity of the road, a tree warden would need to go on a safety course.
The council approved the appointment of tree wardens and gave the council the go ahead to work with tree wardens to identify alternative sites for trees.
Cllr Anthony White argued before any further schemes were agreed, a report should be conducted into the ongoing costs of tree planting. Cllr Ian White said they would need to examine which trees had been planted with or without permission, as well as check only small trees had been planted.
See letters on pages 33 & 40