29.1. Malcolm Freebody, Assistant Supervisor Arboriculture & Countryside Team, introduced himself to the Committee and provided an overview of the services provided by Ipswich Borough Council with regards to trees.
29.2. There were 107,000 trees within Ipswich and all were inspected on a 3-4 year rotation. All trees would be inspected, photographed and logged onto a system that could be accessed by all employees within the tree department and the system prioritised which trees required urgent attention. When storms hit, this could mean several months of clean up would be required and this would therefore push back the date of inspection for all other trees on the system.
29.3. The Officer confirmed that IBC chose to use an “in house” team, as this was the most cost effective option. Following recent recruitment, there were now 5 tree officers in place and it was anticipated that within the next year this would increase.
29.4. With regards to common complaints received, the Officer explained that complaints regarding blocked light within a property due to a tree(s), was not an area covered by IBC or within law. The only time this would be considered was to vegetation causing an obstruction when there had previously been 20 years of uninterrupted light on the side of a property.
29.5. The Officer confirmed that any tree problems/queries should be emailed to email@example.com this should the name of the complainant, address, the location of the tree, the problem and photographs. If appropriate for IBC investigation, this would be referred to the Officer who had 20 days to respond.
29.6. The Officer explained that there were limitations as to what the Officers could do, for example leaves were not covered by law and it was not IBC duty to clear them. With regards to road signs which had been obscured by a tree(s), the Officer advised that any tree which was within two metres of a road or a back curb on a pavement, would belong to Suffolk County Council. Therefore in occasions such as these, the tree would be Suffolk County Council’s responsibility.
29.7. The Officer advised that Ipswich Borough Council would be subcontracted by Suffolk County Council to cut the trees under their responsibility (i.e. any close to the highway).
29.8. Discussion took place around Chesterton Close and the number of issues that had been reported on several occasions (including fly tipping, antisocial behaviour etc.) The Officer agreed to visit the residents of Chesterton Drive to consider these issues further outside of the meeting.
29.9. In response to a question, the Officer confirmed that any landowner could cut branches overhanging their property as long as the tree was not protected. This could be identified through the deeds of a property or through an IBC Housing Officer if they were an IBC tenant. Cutting or removing a tree subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) on could mean an automatic £20,000 fine.
29.10. The Officer provided some individual advice with regards to resident’s specific enquiries regarding trees in their garden/street and reaffirmed that any problems should be emailed in to the email address above and a response would be provided. Any healthy tree, unless deemed dangerous, would always be allowed to grow. However, if a resident felt that a tree was dangerous, a form could be completed on IBC’s corporate website (or in person at the Council’s Offices) and submitted for investigation. If the Council agreed that the tree had damaged a property, the TPO could be lifted.
29.11. The Officer advised that should a tree die on Council land this would be the Council’s responsibility however, it the tree was within a private garden, this would be the private landowner’s responsibility. The Council were the guardians of any TPO’s and any requests to remove a protected tree had to be granted by IBC’s planning department. When a tree was removed by the Council, two more trees would be granted in its place.
29.12. The South West Area Committee thanked the Officer for his presentation and attendance at the South West Area Committee.