Issue - meetings
Tree Planting and Management
The Scrutiny Committee has asked the Companies Scrutiny Panel to consider a report concerning tree planting and management by ODS, specifically in light of discussions arising from the Council’s Urban Forest Strategy. ODS representatives Laura Harlock, Parks and Open Spaces Manager, Jason Munro, Head of Service (Operations), and Simon Howick, Managing Director, have been invited to attend for this item.
The Panel is asked to consider the report, NOTE it, and AGREE any recommendations the Panel may wish to make to the Shareholder and Joint Venture Group or to the Cabinet.
Simon Howick, ODS Chief Executive, Jason Munro, ODS Director of Operations, and Laura Harlock, ODS Parks and Open Spaces Manager presented a Scrutiny-commissioned report on Tree Management to the Panel.
The Council’s Tree Policy arose from a near-miss with an individual, following which a more rigorous and systematic system of surveying and managing trees was implemented.
The ODS Tree Service services the c 100,000 Council-owned trees on a three-year basis, surveying them all and developing a prioritised plan of works. Ad hoc inspections also took place. It is also responsible for surveying the County Council’s trees though a s.42 and s.42+ agreement. The Service is also responsible for planting of trees, and emergency work such as during storms. The team is made up of three people, with a fourth seasonal worker in the spring and summer months.
The Service’s tree planning on average involves the planting of approximately 90 trees per annum with a view to replacing in wards where practicable trees previously felled. The seasonal worker who is responsible for this is currently at maximum capacity, so additional tree planting would require investment in additional staff or equipment.
Councillors requested that the schedule for ward visits be made available to them, which was agreed.
Members also asked about how the capacity of the team was impacted by the secondment of one of the three full time staff to Oxford City Council. Careful planning had allowed this to work, but did cause a slight pressure when remaining staff were taking holiday. Regular surveying did also mean that when storms came, it created lower peaks of remedial work afterwards.
The balance between ad hoc and scheduled surveys was explored. Ad hoc surveys had halved in regularity since the Policy was implemented, and ran at about 12 per week.
Clarification over who was responsible for undertaking works on or ultimately replanting damaged trees was raised. In the end it came down to tree ownership; a tree owned by the Council would be the Council’s responsibility, but one in private ownership would not. Likewise, the Council did undertake surveying of County Council trees, but it would not then undertake the works required unless done so via a further contract.
The report was NOTED and no recommendations were made.
Jason Munro and Laura Harlock left the meeting at the end of this item.
NB There are confidential minutes associated with this item.