Agenda item

Agenda item

Review of Tree Management Policy


Background Information

The Scrutiny Committee has asked for this item to be included on the agenda for pre-decision scrutiny.  The Committee previously provided feedback on the Tree Management Policy in April 2016.

Why is it on the agenda?

The City Executive Board will be asked to approve the updated Tree Management Policy at its meeting on 13 October 2016.  This is an opportunity for the Scrutiny Committee to make recommendations to the City Executive Board.

Who has been invited to comment?

·         Councillor Linda Smith, Board Member for Leisure, Parks & Sport,

·         Stuart Fitzsimmons, Parks and Open Spaces Manager.





Cllr Linda Smith, Board Member for Leisure Parks and Sports presented the report and outlined the draft policy

She said that the policy had been written with a friendlier tone and focused on what the Council would do rather than what it would not do. The draft policy contains a more extensive arbitration and review section to assist customers who are unhappy with decisions. Officers reminded the Committee that the policy only extends to the management and maintenance of Council owned trees.


The Committee discussed the following:


The issue of trees blocking light and what the tree team would do in these cases. The Parks and Open Spaces Manager explained that there is no legal right to light but there is an obligation to keep the lamp posts clear.  The Tree team considers each case on an individual basis.


Officers explained that the cost of maintaining the 100,000+ Council trees in the city put considerable budgetary pressures on the service. The tree team trades externally to subsidise these costs.


The Committee favoured the idea of fruit trees being planted in Council parks and asked for fruiting trees to be included in the tree planting list as an option for parks and for the policy to say that people can help themselves to the fruit off these trees.


The Committee agreed with the creation of a Customer Advice Guide and suggested a number of issues to be included (listed in recommendation 3)


That the Tree Planting Guide provide more information on the common trees listed and how they meet the requirements of the policy.  That the planting guide list which trees could be pollarded; and for more information on which species are pollinators (specifically bee pollinators).  The Committee also requested that a new section on trees that could be planted in parks (most notably fruit trees) be added.


The Committee raised concerns with the narrow focus of the policy in that it did not mention enough about the role of planning or the highways authority in tree management.  Many tree issues faced by members of the public are the responsibility of other authorities and are not covered by this policy.  To improve public understanding, it was requested that officers include a section at the front of the policy which highlighted what the policy covers and where people can find additional information on trees from the planning and highways authority.


The Committee noted a number of minor amendments to the report which the Board Member and Officers agreed to correct (listed in reccommendation1)


The Scrutiny Committee agreed the following recommendation to CEB


1: That the following amendments are made to the Policy:

a)    The phrase ‘perceived to be causing medical issues’ in the bullet points at the top of page 5 of the Policy is replaced with ‘undocumented medical conditions’.

b)    Explanation is added that challenges under the arbitration and review process will be assessed against the Policy.

c)    The statement that ‘every tree felled should be replaced’ on page 8 of the Policy is strengthened to say that ‘every tree felled will be replaced’.


2: That fruit trees are listed in the tree planting guide as an option for parks and that the policy mentions that people can help themselves to fruit from the fruit trees in Council parks.


3: That the following are included in the Tree Planting Guide or the Customer Advice Guide, as appropriate:

a)    How the common trees meet the requirement of the policy.

b)    Which trees could be pollarded.

c)    Which trees are pollinators.

d)    A new section listing (fruit) trees that are suitable for parks.

e)    General advice to householders on what trees are appropriate for planting in gardens.

f)     Guidance on which trees are suitable for planting in future council sites.


4: That the Tree Management Policy includes a clearer section at the start that highlights what the policy covers and what it does not cover, as well as signposting to where people can find additional information on trees from the City Council’s Planning Department and Highways Authority.

Supporting documents: