New fund to tackle problem trees for council tenants

A new £160k fund to tackle trees deemed as non-hazardous but blighting the lives of council tenants has been given the green light by Leeds City Council this month.

This follows concerns raised by residents, who supported by local councillors, have highlighted a range of problems created by trees falling into this category. These include issues relating to daylight loss, trees that could cause this problem in void properties and poor TV/satellite signals.

Currently, due to the volume of trees needing immediate work, which is measured by their potential to pose harm to the public, this has meant that other tree work has not been able to be undertaken unless on a further inspection, the problem is considered to have become worse.

In response, the council has now allocated funding from its Housing Revenue Account (HRA) to tackle those trees classified as non-hazardous but which are impacting on the lives of council tenants. As part of this effort, a new dedicated forestry team consisting of four members will be formed to undertake this work.

Councillor Peter Gruen, executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:

"Having listened to a range of concerns, we have taken the decision to allocate £160k from our Housing Revenue Account to tackle trees which while classified as non-hazardous, are having a negative impact on the lives of council tenants across the city.

"As part of our work, we will be working closely with our forestry team and local councillors to identify the worst affected properties by issues such as daylight loss and TV/satellite signal.

"This funding whilst very welcome is certainly not limitless, and we would ask residents to please bear this in mind, as we begin to allocate work to those homes that need it the most."

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive board member for the environment said:

"Our forestry team do a really fantastic job day in day out in our city, but because of the severe pressures that the council faces, they are only able to tackle those that are an absolute priority.

"We wanted to change that, and I am delighted that funding has been identified through the HRA to put together a team of four people that will tackle those non-hazardous trees in our communities which have become a real problem for council tenants.

"Where a healthy tree has to be felled and removed, we will make sure that in all cases replacement planting takes place on a one for one basis. This work will be undertaken on the most appropriate site close by and we will also ensure the most suitable tree species are used."

Notes to editors:

While classified as non-hazardous, concerns have been raised by both council tenants and councillors that problems created by trees in this category affect their health, wellbeing and quality of life. Issues highlighted include the loss of daylight, leaf fall, and the loss of TV reception/satellite signal.

In order to meet this challenge, the council will now create new sub categories to reflect the order in which work should be carried out on non-hazardous trees across Leeds. These will focus on those homes which are affected the most by daylight loss, trees that could cause this problem in void properties and poor TV/satellite signals.

Work is prioritised by the council’s forestry team on the following criteria:

Emergency (1), Urgent (2), Developing (3a), Developing Hazard (3b) and Non Hazardous (4).

New sub categories by the council to reflect the order in which work should be carried out on non-hazardous trees across Leeds are as follows:

Trees affecting health and wellbeing (4a), which incorporates daylight loss (assessed depending on the size of the tree and how near it is to certain rooms in the house) and will also include trees that could cause this problem in void properties. The second category is Trees affecting quality of life, which will address poor TV/satellite signals (4b) where no alternative engineering solution can be found.

For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk