Tree planting - town wardens did follow procedures

The Seaford Town Council’s Community Services meeting to discuss street tree planting last Thursday did not reflect the very positive work done by STC Officers and Seaford Tree Wardens in promoting tree planting in the town.

Rather, the meeting emphasised the negatives by exaggerating the potential problems from trees and not recognising the benefits.

As several councillors stated at the meeting, there has been a huge amount of support in the town for the continuation of street tree planting.

Since last Thursday’s meeting, the correspondence on street tree planting in Seaford has been re-examined.

This shows that the Tree Wardens held a number of meetings with Town Council staff, and did ask (by e-mail) for advice on whether street tree planting plans should be put to the Community Services Committee.

Tree Wardens were not asked to prepare a report and sought the permissions that they were asked for.

In addition, all the trees planted were ordered by Town Council staff using the official ordering system.

All trees planted were licensed by East Sussex County Council, after site visits and discussions with Tree Wardens.

These procedures are designed to reduce the risks of long term problems from trees.

All tree species were selected according to ESCC advice and therefore no unsuitable trees have been planted in grass verges.

A number of risks associated with planting trees were quoted from the council report, including potential claims of liability if accident or injury occurred, utility damage, footpath or kerb repairs.

Most of these risks, such as footpath damage, are associated with large trees - not the small species planted by the Tree Wardens.

This has been confirmed by a recent survey by Tree Wardens of most of the street trees planted some time ago in Seaford.

The original recommendation, in the report from STC Officers, to Thursday’s meeting stated that “no further street plantings take place in Seaford Town Council’s name”.

Fortunately, this was amended at the meeting so that a decision by the Committee could be made in future based on a detailed assessment of the ongoing costs of the trees planted. Seaford Tree Wardens have already produced a paper on ongoing costs (prepared in close collaboration with tree professionals) and hope to work with STC Officers and the Community Services Committee to plant more street trees in the autumn.

Keith Blackburn