We're furious after council said we CAN'T spend £5,000 to cut down trees hanging over our home – we can't get insurance | The Sun
A COUPLE are stuck in a bitter row with their council over trees that they say hang over their home and stop them getting insurance – but can't be cut down.
Brian Tempest, 73, and Susan Dickerson, 60, have even offered to pay £5,000 to have the three 90-foot sycamores behind their property felled.
But the trees are covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) and the couple's countless attempts to get consent to chop them down have been rejected.
Now Brian and Susan feel they are at their "wit's end" as if one of the sycamores, or its branches, come down on the pair's £400,000 home, they won't be insured.
They also fear the towering trees pose a danger to their young grandkids, and worry they could be playing in the garden when a piece of the trees comes down.
Brian, a retired publishing industry worker, said: "They do treat us with contempt, and I'm really disgusted, to be honest with you, with the things they've said.
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"We could be made homeless if a tree goes down.
"I'm afraid over these last few years, it's just got worse and worse with people's aggression."
Two of the three "ginormous" broad-leaved maples sit on public land roughly ten inches from the couple's boundary line.
They have branches that extend to within three feet of the couple's West Yorkshire home.
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Susan, a holistic therapist and beautician, said: "We are at our wit's end, and we've even considered moving.
"Without a shadow of a doubt, I think the council care more about trees than humans."
The pair, who have six grandkids between them, live in a four-bed, 60-year-old brick-built home, which Susan originally bought in 1995.
They say that around 11 years ago they started writing to their council as the trees' roots began loosening their garden wall, then their patio.
The couple claim that since then they have sent hundreds of letters and emails to Bradford councillors and council staff about the trees.
And despite their persistency, their efforts to have the TPO covered sycamores chopped down have failed.
Susan said: "To be honest, we didn't get any reaction. We've even sent letters and emails to the chief executive of Bradford Council.
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"We actually offered to pay to have the trees removed and more trees planted, which are appropriate for the area. They wouldn't even listen to that.
"Last year, they agreed the wall was collapsing [due to the trees] and put up scaffolding for a couple of months. They lowered the wall by five or six inches and secured the top stones with cement.
"But all they've said is if it happens again, if the wall collapses – which it probably will – they will keep coming along to repair it."
Susan said she and Brian had been left in a constant state of stress since they found out their insurance wouldn't cover damaged caused by falling branches.
She said: "Our insurers actually say, 'You are not covered for any debris, damage from the trees', which we get lots of annually – it's a constant battle.
"We've even had one of the council employees tell us when we were concerned about the grandchildren playing in the garden, 'Well, I suggest you just don't let them play in the garden.'"
Brian added: "The local tree surgeon said it would be £4,000 to 5,000 to chop these trees down, and we've offered to pay for it, and even suggested replacement trees."
Susan added: "There are people who do love trees who we can appreciate will probably say: 'We need them'.
"I agree, but these are the wrong types of trees. Let's have some in a better position."
A spokesperson from Bradford Council told a local paper that though they'd received complaints from the couple for "several years", the trees' TPO took precedence.
They said: "We have received complaints from the residents about a tree to the rear of the property over several years.
"However, the tree is considered to be an important amenity tree in the area and is subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).
"Applications to lift the TPO have been made and turned down on review by an independent third party.
"The tree is regularly inspected and actions have been taken to remove potentially hazardous overhanging branches.
"We will continue to inspect the tree and have asked the resident to inform us of any change in its condition or other concerns."
The couple's battle comes not long after families in Staffordshire revealed they were fighting their council in a similar situation.
Locals on the residential street said they live in darkness and have to shell out £1,000 a year as the council's trees block their windows.
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Another man revealed how a tree at the front of his property is so big his family won't visit him – and he's fighting the council to get it chopped down.
What to do if you live near a tree protected by a TPO
Gov.uk says you must apply to work on a tree that's protected.
Its website says you may need to make a ‘works to trees’ application if they’re protected by a ‘tree preservation order’ (TPO) or you live in a conservation area. Work can include trimming, topping, uprooting or lopping branches.
Should you consent be rejected, you can also appeal the decision.
The Gov.uk site says your council makes decisions about work on trees protected by preservation orders.
You can appeal if you applied to cut down or carry out work on a protected tree and:
- you disagree with the decision
- a decision was not made within 8 weeks
You can also appeal if you disagree with a tree replacement notice you’ve been given.
There’s no fee for appealing.
However, you must appeal within 28 days of the date on the council's decision notice, or before the date the tree replacement notice comes into effect.
There’s no deadline if you’re appealing because your application was not decided within 8 weeks.
Once your appeal is validated, you’ll normally get a decision within 27 weeks.
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