Everything Trees!

I’ve been handling quite a lot of tree-related enquiries over the last few months so I thought it might be helpful to summarise what’s been going on…

By my estimation I’d say that about 30-40% of the streets in our ward are planted with trees. Some streets are lined with with large mature trees, others are home to species that are more modest in scale. They give our area a really pleasant feel, they provide shade in the sunshine and shelter from showers, they enhance biodiversity and soak up CO2 and pollution from traffic. They also drip sticky sap onto our cars, play havoc with paving stones, and, around this time of year, dump their leaves by the ton.

In short, our trees are very much a mixed blessing. We tolerate their downsides because of the many benefits they bring.

The tree-related problems that residents contact me about generally involve some combination of the following…

  • Roots pushing up the pavement
  • High branches overhanging and interfering with properties
  • Low branches causing an obstruction to passers by
  • Trees obstructing light to homes and gardens
  • Leaf sweeping required

In dealing with tree issues over the last few months it became apparent that there seemed to be a lack of action from the Council’s Arborist team. After probing into whether this was indeed the case I found out that the team, which is small to begin with, had been quite badly hit by Covid. This had affected both their scheduled work and also their ability to respond to specfic requests. I lobbied for additional resources to be found to strengthen the team so that they could catch up with the backlog that had developed. Another factor that emerged was that the team’s manager was retiring, creating a vacancy that needed to be filled. I am led to believe that an appointment has now been made.

Parallel to handling the specific cases for residents I also received a preview of a new tree-management strategy that the council has been working on, to be published in the new year I think. I was delighted to see that this proposed a much more ambitious tree-planting plan than the one we currently have in place. Since 2016 it has been the council’s policy to replace any tree removed with at least 2 new ones. The new plan will align with our enhanced Net Zero ambition, and therefore be much more pro-active in identifying sites for mass tree planting, working with landowners where necessary. At its heart will be the principle of “the right tree in the right place”. This is a recognition that some areas of North Tyneside (including within our ward) were planted decades ago with species unsuitable for an urban environment.

Finally, I know that some residents are concerned about the removal of mature trees from Northumberland Square in the town centre, as part of the square’s redevelopment. I’ve asked the council’s head of regeneration for more information about this, which I will share on my Facebook page when I receive it. I’m hoping to get my hands on some artist’s impressions of what the square is expected to look like when completed.

If you have any tree-related concerns the first thing you should do is register them using this form:

A follow-up process will then be triggered by the relevant council team. If this doesn’t happen, or if you receive a less than satisfactory response, then please do contact me and I can step in to see what’s going on. My email is: matt.wilson@northtyneside.gov.uk

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