4.0) Customer policy

4.1) Informing the public

Ward councillors and appropriate ‘friends groups’ of any major tree works such as pollarding or felling will be informed before any works are carried out in their ward/park.

Where deemed appropriate, neighbouring properties, which are directly impacted by works will also be informed.

Felling is the last resort and will only be carried out when deemed necessary by the arboricultural officer. However, public safety is paramount and for this reason the public including local residents and ‘Friends Groups’ will not be consulted for approval as the decision is being made based on the technical capability and experience of a qualified officer of the council.

4.2) Policies for dealing with and prioritising public requests

The council receives hundreds of requests each year from customers concerned about various aspects associated with trees and their condition/growth. Often the customers view on the ‘risk’ associated with a tree does not reflect the actual risk based on technical expertise. Many of the most common enquiries are covered by the policies listed in Section 7.

Response rates to public enquiries

Policy: emergency tree-related issue

Our tree team will be instructed to attend site within 1 hour to make the situation safe. An emergency is defined as a tree that is in immediate danger of collapse or a tree that is causing an obstruction requiring urgent attention. Details are provided in Appendix 3.

Policy: non-emergency tree-related safety issue

A site inspection will be undertaken within 10 working days of receipt and the customer notified of what action is considered appropriate.

Policy: tree enquiry not requiring a site inspection

Customers will be informed of council policy within 10 working days of receipt of an enquiry.

Policy: tree enquiry requiring a site inspection

Customers will be informed within 10 working days of receipt that a site inspection is required and that such a site inspection will be undertaken within 10 weeks of receipt.

Why is / was a tree felled?

Policy: a response to the reasons why any one tree was felled will be given within 10 working days of receipt.

Customer Advice: Tree removal is regrettable but under a number of circumstances necessary. The decision to remove a tree is not taken lightly and, apart from when a dangerous tree needs urgent attention. Most trees that need to be felled are done so because the tree has become unsafe and there is no cost effective solution to otherwise retain the tree. Other reasons why trees need to be removed include where a tree is completely out of scale with its surroundings, where its removal would benefit the surrounding trees.

Why is / was a tree pruned?

Policy: a response to reasons why a tree was pruned will be given within 10 working days of receipt.

Customer Advice: Trees are pruned for a variety of reasons including the removal of damaged or poorly formed branches, to reduce the likelihood of failure by taking 'weight' out of the tree and generally to keep a tree as healthy and attractive as possible. Many street trees are maintained on a cyclical programme every three to four years as we attempt to restrict the growth of large type trees such as London plane by regular re-pollarding.