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Council refuses to cut down tree threatening lives of children

A council in Sydney’s eastern suburbs is refusing to cut down a tree which drops large branches into a children’s park.

The Woollahra Council has twice rejected an application for the tree in Paddington to be removed.

The gum tree sits in Ken Khavin and Jane Benson’s yard which hangs over their fence and drops big branches into a local park where children play.

 

In a statement, the council has said “the production of deadwood is a natural process”. (See full statement below)

Jane tells Ben Fordham a council officer came to inspect the tree and made very callous remarks.

“The council was very aggressive form the beginning. He had a bad attitude, insinuated that I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth as were other people in the area.

“When I expressed my concerns about the tree dropping branches and hurting someone, or killing someone, his remark was ‘oh well we’ve all gotta go somehow’.”

She says she finds it very troubling that the council is refusing to act.

“I’m horrified, it’s causing a huge amount of anxiety for myself, my neighbours and the people in the park.

“We were in the William Street festival a few years ago and one landed while children were playing in the park during the festival.”

Ken adds the council has a responsibility to the community.

“It is unbelievable how these bureaucrats can just sit there and because it’s not in their backyard, quite literally, they can just ignore it.”

Click PLAY to hear the full interview

Woollahra Council’s full statement:

“Council has received several applications from the property owner for the trees in question to be removed. The reasons for request for removal as stated by the owner were for minor damage to a timber fence and paving of a courtyard in an adjacent property. The adjacent property owner has recently converted this area to a carport.

“Council’s qualified arborists investigated on each occasion and found that removal of the trees or pruning did not need to be carried out, as the trees were assessed as healthy and no hazardous branches were present.

“The production of deadwood (as seen in photos provided) is a natural process and for a tree of this species, to produce 3-4 pieces of this size over a period of 18-24 months is not unusual. The tree appears healthy and has not shown any signs of decline.

“Trees in and overhanging the park were recently assessed as part of Council’s intensive tree maintenance program. Our staff did not find any reasons for tree removal or pruning, and no potentially hazardous branches posing a threat to park users were identified.

“Council staff inspected the tree overhanging the playground again today, and this assessment found there to be no risk to the public.

“If a property owner is unhappy with Council’s assessment, they are free to engage a private arborist to make an assessment and provide Council with information. In this instance, that has not been done.”

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