Thursday, November 02, 2006

Advice bureaux/ the street environment

Two advice bureaux last night as it was the first Wednesday of the month. The first at 6pm at Witton Community Centre and the second, the weekly one, at 7pm at Beeches Road Neighbourhood Office.

One very interesting discussion with a gentleman who wants to install a drop kerb without taking out the conker tree in front of his house. This is the sort of person we want to encourage and indeed Ray Hassall was instrumental last year in proposing new city policies to put an end to the decimation of our trees. This week's deeply alarming climate report is just one reason why we must keep our mature trees. Another is the regular flooding in neighbourhoods such as the Turnberry Road shops.

This resident has been out with his tape measure and has plenty of space for his drive, well clear of the tree. So we were shocked to hear that he was told by council staff that the tree must go because it is within three metres of his drive. I first wrote to the department about this one month ago and am still awaiting a reply.

One of the problems we find is that over time officers develop practices and then claim them as policy that has been agreed by the council.

Len Gregory the cabinet member has been helpful in challenging this several times, pointing out that he has never approved such policies. Quite often there is no evidence his predecessors ever did either.

As a result he has put an end to another piece of lunacy, the ban on installing "no parking on the grass verge" staves. This was allegedly because they might pose a hazard to pedestrians or drivers who accidentally came off the road. They are now being made available for residents who want to protect the grass in front of their own homes. That is the correct policy. Some of these people may well plant flowers, as was happening in one area a few years ago until the jobsworths moved in. I was pleased to get confirmation from an officer yesterday that the first of these staves is being reinstalled in front of one elderly resident's home.


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