Tree planting scheme could grind to halt

Seaford tree wardens, council refused to allow them to plant trees
Seaford tree wardens, council refused to allow them to plant trees

Concerns have been raised a programme of tree planting along Seaford’s streets could be stopped due to ongoing maintenance costs and health and safety concerns.

Seaford tree wardens said they had been told that no further planting could take place until the town council’s Community Services Committee considers the matter on March 21.

But Seaford Town Council leader Ian White said a halt had been called because the tree wardens had failed to put their tree scheme before the council for approval, and therefore not covered by the council for insurance liability.

Cllr White added a letter issued to residents by Seaford tree wardens was incorrect.

He said officers of the council had expressed concerns about the possible long term financial implications from maintenance, safety checks and possible future damage to pavements, roads or other property, but this was not the issue which lead to a halt of the scheme.

Cllr White said, “The halt was necessary due to the Seaford Tree Wardens Group not seeking approval before planning to undertake planting.”

In a letter to residents, chairman of Seaford Tree Wardens Keith Blackburn said, “We understand that this is due to some concerns about the long term maintenance of the trees. If the councillors vote to support street tree planting, it means we can go ahead with planting in your street in the autumn.

“If the vote goes against planting, then there will be no further street tree planting in Seaford for the foreseeable future.”

Cllr White said, “Seaford Tree Wardens were established by Seaford Town Council in July 2007 when six individuals volunteered to become involved in planting schemes, undertaking surveys, school tree projects and advising on planning issues that affect protected trees.

“As such the volunteers are responsible to the town council and are covered for insurance liability by the council.

“Between 2007 and 2011 the tree wardens had their schemes approved by the council which was grateful of the actions of the volunteers to improve the environment of the town.

“Unfortunately the current scheme for street tree planting was not submitted to the council for approval by the tree wardens and therefore cannot be undertaken until such approval is sought.

“When the town clerk became aware of proposed imminent planting of street trees, she took steps to protect both the council and the volunteers and the group by suspending the plans until approval can be sought via the Community Services Committee.

“The earliest date to do this is March 21, until then planting cannot take place.”

The town council said the Royal Horticultural Society advised planting should ideally take place between October and April, so there was still a chance for the trees to be planted this spring.

Seaford Tree Wardens have been instructed to stop their plans to plant 90 trees in grass verges in Seaford in March until the council makes a decision.

This means the wardens will be unable to plant trees in the grass verges this spring as it had intended. Spring is the best time of year for street tree planting.

The group is calling for residents to write, email or telephone their councillor or send an email or letter to town council staff for forwarding to the committee; and come along to the meeting Thursday March 21 at 7pm, at Seaford Town Council Offices, Church Street, BN25.

You should arrive at 6.45pm as doors will be locked at 7pm.