TREE FELLING in Wirral borough, apparently authorised by Council Officers.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,
A £1.2 million tree felling programme of works, in Wirral borough, authorised by Council Officers, with no prior process of public participation or authorisation from elected Councillors, appears to have commenced.

Please provide:
1. Information concerning the source of the £1.2 million and the period of time in which it is to be spent.

A couple of months ago Officers of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council authorised the felling of 42 mature trees in the lower half of Ashton Park, West Kirby (west of the north-south former railway line), claiming that the trees were diseased.

On Wednesday 19 June 2019 a meeting took place between the Grange Cemetery and Grange Park (just off Black Horse Hill), West Kirby, involving local residents, two Councillors and two Officers of the Council (Mr Bestwick and Mr Quinney).

Members of the public were informed that an arboriculturalist had conducted a survey of the line of 33 Lombardy Poplar trees.......and had concluded that 6 of the trees should be felled. Somebody else, we were told had then decided that ALL 33 of the semi-mature Lombardy Poplar trees were to be felled, to ground level, in the next few days. Other trees, within the cemetery, the park and in a small wooded area adjacent to the Black Horse Hill road are also to be felled.

Please provide:
2. Information detailing the specific procedures whereby the results of this specific tree survey have been dramatically changed, whether by an employee of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council or by somebody else.

Members of the public were informed that there had been one accident over the last twenty years involving falling trees or branches within Wirral Metropolitan Borough.

One of the two Council Officers present stated that the prevailing wind was north-westerly (from the direction of Moreton/Meols) whereas, in fact, the prevailing wind for the UK is south-westerly, coming in fact, from the other side of Grange Hill. The 33 Lombardy Poplars are actually sheltered from the prevailing wind by Grange Hill.

The 33 trees contribute to the removal of a considerable amount of water which flows down the slope of Grange Hill. Without them the park below would be inundated with water.

One local resident suggested to the two Council Officers present that it would make more sense to plant another line of Lombardy Poplars on the other side of the long pathway, creating an avenue of Lombardy Poplars. No comment was forthcoming from the two Council Officers. Another, parallel line of Lombardy Poplars would have several benefits:
(a) the new line of trees would act as a win break, providing protection to the existing, older line of trees;
(b) the new line of trees would absorb more of the excess water flowing down the slope of Grange Hill;
(c) the new line of trees would create more beneficial habitat for minibeast, birds and bats (which are often seen in this area - in summer months);
(d) the new line of trees, in creating a beautiful avenue of Lombardy Poplars, would add to the visual attractiveness of this area of West Kirby.

Please provide:
3. Information detailing the specific work done by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, within the borough, to value and to protect hollow trees and dead trees.......given the widely recognised ecological benefits to minibeasts, bats and birds.

Please provide:
4. Information detailing the specific amounts of money, by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, within the borough, to protect hollow trees and dead trees.......given the widely recognised ecological benefits to minibeasts, bats and birds.

Please provide:
5. Information detailing the specific amounts of money, awarded by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, to the two private companies - (i) 'Amenity Tree Care' and (ii) 'Man Coed' - (a) to undergo tree surveys and (b) to fell trees/ remove branches.....within Wirral Metropolitan borough.

Please provide:
6. Information detailing the specific amounts of money, awarded by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, to the private company Man Coed for weed spraying inside Wirral Metropolitan borough.

Please provide:
7. Information detailing the specific amounts of money, awarded by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, to any organisation, for the structural support of trees.

Please provide:
8. Information detailing the specific amounts of money, awarded by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, to schools and colleges, to provide information about the benefits of trees to people.

Please provide:
9. Information detailing the specific details of discussions held, by Councillors of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, involving growing public concerns over the granting of contacts to conduct both tree surveys and tree felling work, to private companies. Both 'Amenity Tree Care' and 'Man Coed' appear to be involved in large amounts of tree felling. What discussions have taken place, within the Council, concerning the granting of tree surveys to genuinely INDEPENDENT arboriculturalists who have no involvement with tree felling.

Please provide:
10. Information detailing the specific ENVIRONMENTAL training courses undertaken by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Councillors over the course of the last 24 months.

Yours faithfully,

Alan Rundle

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Thank you for your recent request made under the Freedom of Information Act, which has been received by Wirral Borough Council.

The Council can confirm this request was received by the FOI team.

Your enquiry was passed to the relevant Council department(s), and we will aim to issue a substantive response within the statutory timeframe FOI act (2000), 20 working days from the receipt of your request.

Yours sincerely,

Chelsea Dalton
Information Management Officer
Business Management - ICT
Treasury Building
Argyle Street
Birkenhead
Wirral
CH41 1AH
Tel: 0151 666 5201
[Wirral Borough Council request email]

PLEASE FORWARD ALL FOI RESPONSES TO [Wirral Borough Council request email]

show quoted sections

Dalton, Chelsea, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Rundle,

 

Thank you for your recent FOI submitted under the Freedom of Information
Act 2000. Please see response below:

 

1. Information concerning the source of the £1.2 million and the period of
time in which it is to be spent.
A couple of months ago Officers of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council
authorised the felling of 42 mature trees in the lower half of Ashton
Park, West Kirby (west of the north-south former railway line), claiming
that the trees were diseased.
On Wednesday 19 June 2019 a meeting took place between the Grange Cemetery
and Grange Park (just off Black Horse Hill), West Kirby, involving local
residents, two Councillors and two Officers of the Council (Mr Bestwick
and Mr Quinney).
Members of the public were informed that an arboriculturalist had
conducted a survey of the line of 33 Lombardy Poplar trees.......and had
concluded that 6 of the trees should be felled. Somebody else, we were
told had then decided that ALL 33 of the semi-mature Lombardy Poplar trees
were to be felled, to ground level, in the next few days. Other trees,
within the cemetery, the park and in a small wooded area adjacent to the
Black Horse Hill road are also to be felled.
Wirral Council has provided this sum of money to a reserve budget, it does
not have a time limit. (Also see below).

2. Information detailing the specific procedures whereby the results of
this specific tree survey have been dramatically changed, whether by an
employee of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council or by somebody else.
Initial condition survey was carried out by Amenity Tree Care, on
06/07/2018, nearly 12 months ago.  The priority time frame he put on these
trees was ‘High’ the definition of which, within the system he was using
is ‘Trees that pose an unacceptable risk to public safety unless
controlled within a period of 12 months.’, which means that the work
should have been completed or at least done imminently.  His original
comments, taken directly from the survey are ‘The trees have a history of
being poorly pruned and have been significantly reduced in height to
approximately 4m above ground level. The survey identified twenty-three
trees that have major structural defects that consists of significant stem
and basal decay. Large diameter deadwood is visible in several trees.  Due
to the poor structural condition of the trees and poor pruning and the
further likely deterioration in the structural condition of the trees. I
recommend that the trees are felled to ground level.’  I then reviewed the
site to see whether we could reduce the impact of essential work.  Having
spent some time looking at all of the Lombardy Poplars I decided that six
of the trees are in such a poor structural condition they definitely need
taking out, with the remainder being pollarded back to the original
pollard points at around 4m.  This reduces the risk to an acceptable level
whilst also giving the remaining trees the chance to regrow.  However, the
work does not change the long term viability of the trees, and their
gradual removal and replacement will still be required over the next few
years.

 

Members of the public were informed that there had been one accident over
the last twenty years involving falling trees or branches within Wirral
Metropolitan Borough.

One of the two Council Officers present stated that the prevailing wind
was north-westerly (from the direction of Moreton/Meols) whereas, in fact,
the prevailing wind for the UK is south-westerly, coming in fact, from the
other side of Grange Hill. The 33 Lombardy Poplars are actually sheltered
from the prevailing wind by Grange Hill.

The 33 trees contribute to the removal of a considerable amount of water
which flows down the slope of Grange Hill. Without them the park below
would be inundated with water.

One local resident suggested to the two Council Officers present that it
would make more sense to plant another line of Lombardy Poplars on the
other side of the long pathway, creating an avenue of Lombardy Poplars. No
comment was forthcoming from the two Council Officers. Another, parallel
line of Lombardy Poplars would have several benefits:
(a) the new line of trees would act as a win break, providing protection
to the existing, older line of trees;
(b) the new line of trees would absorb more of the excess water flowing
down the slope of Grange Hill;
(c) the new line of trees would create more beneficial habitat for
minibeast, birds and bats (which are often seen in this area - in summer
months);
(d) the new line of trees, in creating a beautiful avenue of Lombardy
Poplars, would add to the visual attractiveness of this area of West
Kirby.
Please provide:
3.  Information detailing the specific work done by Wirral Metropolitan
Borough Council, within the borough, to value and to protect hollow trees
and dead trees.......given the widely recognised ecological benefits to
minibeasts, bats and birds.
Management decisions on trees are made once all of the available
information has been considered and the aim will always be, where
possible, to retain trees in-situ.  Retention of standing deadwood is
always considered, and in appropriate situations it is retained, with
monolithing of trees and use of coronet cuts and other appropriate
techniques where possible.

 

Please provide:
4.  Information detailing the specific amounts of money, by Wirral
Metropolitan Borough Council, within the borough, to protect hollow trees
and dead trees.......given the widely recognised ecological benefits to
minibeasts, bats and birds.

No information held.

 

Please provide:
5.  Information detailing the specific amounts of money, awarded by Wirral
Metropolitan Borough Council, to the two private companies - (i) 'Amenity
Tree Care' and (ii) 'Man Coed' - (a) to undergo tree surveys and (b) to
fell trees/ remove branches.....within Wirral Metropolitan borough.
(i) Surveying

(ii) Arboriculture services contract.  £270,000 per year, expires
30/11/19.  Work only, no surveying.  Covers primarily Highways but small
amount for Parks and Countryside.

 

Please provide:
6.  Information detailing the specific amounts of money, awarded by Wirral
Metropolitan Borough Council, to the private company Man Coed for weed
spraying inside Wirral Metropolitan borough.
Since April 2018, which is when the 2 year contract started, £95,000 has
been paid to the contractor ManCoed for highway hard surfaces weed
control.

Please provide:
7.  Information detailing the specific amounts of money, awarded by Wirral
Metropolitan Borough Council, to any organisation, for the structural
support of trees.

No information held.

Please provide:
8.  Information detailing the specific amounts of money, awarded by Wirral
Metropolitan Borough Council, to schools and colleges, to provide
information about the benefits of trees to people.
No information held.

Please provide:
9.  Information detailing the specific details of discussions held, by
Councillors of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, involving growing
public concerns over the granting of contacts to conduct both tree surveys
and tree felling work, to private companies. Both 'Amenity Tree Care' and
'Man Coed' appear to be involved in large amounts of tree felling. What
discussions have taken place, within the Council, concerning the granting
of tree surveys to genuinely INDEPENDENT arboriculturalists who have no
involvement with tree felling.
All agendas/minutes for Council & Committee meetings are published on the
Council’s website. Environment Overview & Scrutiny Committee may have
considered these matters & there may be reports with the agenda papers. 
If there were any discussions in respect of these matters they will be
recorded in the Minutes on the council website.

Please provide:
10.  Information detailing the specific ENVIRONMENTAL training courses
undertaken by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Councillors over the course of
the last 24 months.

As a council we regularly have general environmental briefings/updates
with councillors but there have been no specific environmental training
courses for members.

 

I trust this satisfies your request.

 

You have the right under Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000
to ask for an internal review if you are dissatisfied with the information
provided to you. Please direct any request for an internal review to
[1][Wirral Borough Council request email] and your request will be allocated for
review.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Chelsea Dalton

Information Management Officer

Business Management - ICT

Treasury Building

Argyle Street

Birkenhead

Wirral

CH41 1AH

Tel: 0151 666 5201

[2][Wirral Borough Council request email]

 

PLEASE FORWARD ALL FOI RESPONSES TO [3][Wirral Borough Council request email]

 

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