Council warned of "false economy" of abandoning pollarding

Bristol City Council will no longer pay for pollarding of its mature street trees, but a former contractor in the city says the move is simply storing up trouble.

Image: Rob McBride (@thetreehunter)
Image: Rob McBride (@thetreehunter)

At a Bristol Tree Forum meeting last week, the city's deputy mayor for communities Councillor Asher Craig announced that due to budget cuts, which now only leave £53,000 a year for tree management, the council will be no longer pollard any of Bristol's 4,000 street trees. In addition, it will no longer remove epicormic growth, except on health and safety grounds.

According to Sean Harding of local non-profit company TREEspect, who previously undertook pollarding work in the city: "The city's highways manager later admitted that this decision had been taken without any consultation or advice from the city’s arboricultural team, which to me beggars belief."

He said: "One of the positives of the pollarding cycles was that the city's tree stock was getting a full aerial tree inspection every few years with any defects monitored and managed. This will no longer be the case.

"It was pointed out that there would be an escalation of claims to the council for damage to property, either through overgrown crowns or root damage, and the potential for an increase in limb failure due to excessive weight."

It was suggested at the meeting that residents might raise money themselves to have trees pollarded.

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