‘Wonky’ trees given a reprieve after Inside Croydon report

‘Please don’t murder me’: will the council get the message over street trees?

The “wonky” trees of a South Croydon residential street have been given a reprieve from the cash-strapped council’s chainsaw – for a while, at least, following an Inside Croydon report.

Residents of Mulgrave Road, which is claimed to be “the most historic street in the Chatsworth Road conservation area”, expressed their horror and outrage at the weekend when they discovered that council workmen had condemned around half of the mature plum trees which grace their street. Some of the trees are nearly 100 years old.

Few, if any, of the trees were damaged or diseased, although several had not grown straight.

It was suggested that the council was concerned that such “wonky” trees might cause claims for damages against the authority if they caused injury.

Council sources have told Inside Croydon that the authority, which last year declared itself effectively bankrupt, has no budget to buy replacement trees for at least two years. Other nearby neighbourhoods, where their blossom and fruit trees have been felled in the last three years, have been left waiting for replacements, with little hope that council promises will be fulfilled.

Reprieved: one of the under-threat, healthy trees on Mulgrave Road

This week,  Mulgrave Road residents decorated the under-threat trees with painted green hearts and messages, such as “Please don’t murder me”.

And more than a day after the Inside Croydon reported on the threat to the trees, one Labour councillor, Chris “Thirsty” Clark, tweeted that he had spoken to the council department responsible to seek at least a delay in the demolition of the trees.

Last night, the South Croydon Community Association published a post on social media confirming that there had been a halt to any immediate fellings.

But it added that it is far from certain that the wanton destruction of the plum trees can be stopped indefinitely, despite what they call a “senseless removal of healthy trees just because they are bent”.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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5 Responses to ‘Wonky’ trees given a reprieve after Inside Croydon report

  1. The power of the press!!

  2. Josi Kiss says:

    In a time of a world-wide pandemic and climate change, when humans are begining to finally realise that mature trees are important, during bankruptcy at Croydon Council, when 100’s of jobs and key services like social care are being cut, it seems utterly ludicrous to spend so much money to cut down 6 healthy trees just because they are not straight. As a local I know that all bar 1 tree is perfectly ok.

    Thank you for highlighting the #wonkytrees

  3. croydonres says:

    Good on the local residents for their vociferous response. It did not sound as if the proposal had been properly thought through. Even if it had, the communication to the public seemd lacking, at least, in my reading of the Inside Croydon articles.

    My guess is that some of the more exaggeratedly wonky trees — those coming in over the footway, might pose a genuine head-injury hazard to blind pedestrians.

    I hope that the Council have a tree-loving disability adviser who can tell them as to which if any of the trees pose a genuine hazard to blind people walking these footways.

    The picture of one of the seemingly quite unwonky trees in your article above just shows how the poor tree is growing in a tiny open area in the tarmac, crammed against the kerb and surrounded by tarmac. This is a typical “Croydon street tree in a pavement”.

    It is amazing that these trees have survived for maybe the 100 years mentioned. Over this time they will have received a bashing from vehilces and vandals above ground, and in all probability, their roots have been severed at times when the services companies have dug trenches in the footway between the trees and the adjacent property front boundary garden wall, but they have lived!

    Trees in verges have much better conditions, and root space.

    Every tree is precious, and (as I mentioned comments on the previous article) it is quite likely that it is impossible to plant trees in alternative locations along the street, due to existing services.

    My fear is that the potential will further diminish in coming years with on-street charging for electric cars, with new kerbside cabling which would stymie new planting .

    Having designed or project-managed several street tree planting projects in 3 London Boroughs since the 1980’s, I have pounded miles of pavements, equipped with BT , gas and Electric street plans, and a cable detector at various times in the past, looking for sites for new trees.

    It is like looking for a needle in a haystack, with no absolutely no guarantee that there is a needle in the stack.

    Above ground, it looks like there is bags of space for new trees. below ground, there are just so many service pipes and cables. Finding a new site free of services is like finding a gold nugget in a prospecting pan, and the delight when it happens is great !

    Every tree has a lifespan. Even if some or all now have to come out, they have contributed a huge amount to the environment over this time, not just visually but in cleaning the air.

    My hope is that a qualified arboriculturalist in the Tree team will not only look at all the factors but will discuss these openly with residents and councillors, and that a well-founded decision is reached as a result.

    With one 100% guarantee, that of every tree removed, each location will be replanted with a new specimen, that any blank sections of the street are assessed for potential new trees and that a watering programme for 3 years for all new trees is included in the project.

    Trees are like children– they need to be fed, watered, nurtured and protected for their early years.
    Later on, they need to be self-supporting to a large degree, but like adults, we all need a bit of regular TLC . Proper, appropriate pruning, (not too much, not too little) in the case of street trees.

  4. Fantastic victory for Inside Croydon and a well-deserved kick in the nuts to those in the council who haven’t learned any lessons from the last 18 months

  5. Rick Edwards says:

    And this is the very reason that the council had decided to fell the trees not because they are wonky but because they are rotten at the base and fall over like one has today.

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