A proposal that no more tree planting should be carried out by the Seaford Tree Wardens on behalf of Seaford Town Council has been deferred.
The town council agreed to look into identifying alternative sites for tree planting such as private gardens or public open spaces.
Residents turned out in force to a meeting of the Community Services Committee last week (Thursday March 21) to support the principle of street tree planting in Seaford.
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 street.
The town council argued that the tree wardens had forged ahead with their programme of tree planting without putting the scheme before the council and were therefore not covered by the town council for insurance liability.
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 to the committee 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 also said for some street tree planting locations, due to the proximity of the of the road, a tree warden would need to go on a special safety course.
The council did approve the appointment of several tree wardens at the meeting and gave the council projects and facilities manager Ben King the go ahead to work with the tree wardens to identify alternative sites for tree planting.
Cllr Anthony White argued before any further schemes were given the go ahead, a detailed report should be conducted into the ongoing costs of tree planting.
Meanwhile Cllr Ian White said they would need to look into which trees had been planted with permission and which had not, as well as check that only small trees had been planted.
Speaking at the meeting Seaford councillor Sam Adeniji said: “Yes I am in favour of planting trees but also as councillor I understand that Seaford Town Council has certain legal responsibilities which it must comply with, I also appreciate that as Seaford Town Council is responsible for the long term maintenance of these trees it is the duty of the town council to conduct its risk management before trees are planted.
“In as much as I am aware that the committee has to consider the legal and long term risk and cost to the council before trees are planted, can I urge you to please take into account the views of the residents who have contributed to the scheme, many of whom are here tonight when making your decision.”