Arboriculture contractors hit by weather

Arb contractors faced losses of thousands of pounds as heavy snow last week put a stop to virtually all of their jobs.

Tree surgeons across the country said work for local authorities, private-sector clients and homeowners had stalled, with staff being unable to get to site or home.

Speaking last Thursday, Russell Coombs, director of Tree Craft near Sevenoaks, Kent, said: "We have five staff and one of them didn't make it home last night because of the snow.

"We have a skeleton crew in the yard servicing kit and doing log processing but we can't deliver the wood. Tomorrow we will have to close the yard.

He added that parts of Kent had seen areas with nearly 40cm-deep snow. "We can normally stomach a couple of days' downtime, but we have lost about £3,000. We're booked to Christmas and will have to work weekends to catch up."

Paul Farrow, operations director for County Tree Surgeons, which covers London, Surrey and East and West Sussex, said the firm was also hit.

"Nine-tenths of our work, from local authority jobs to domestic work, stopped. We were doing logs and a few guys got out to deal with fallen trees. The losses don't bear thinking about - they're around £4,000."

But Ian Jones, managing director of six-staff ArbWales, which works for National Trust, national parks and local authorities, said because was little snow in Wales: "It's pretty much business as usual. But we are watching the weather and are reluctant to travel great distances - you can't prepare for worst-case scenarios if it comes down."

"Last year we had a lot of snow, but other than having to pull stranded motorists from their cars we pretty much still got to our jobs."

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