Criticism of Kings Pond tree works

Tuesday 14th September 2021 9:45 am
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A ROW has broken out over management of Kings Pond by Alton Town Council’s open spaces committee.

Resident Anthony Furnival criticised the committee - chaired by Cllr Suzie Burns - following closure of the pond’s path after branches fell from trees infected by ash dieback.

He said: "The footpath has been closed since early to mid-July and it will not reopen before September 10.

"While shutting the path was the right thing to do on the grounds of health and safety, posters describe ’emergency works’ being required.

"However, there has been no urgency shown by Alton Town Council in completing these and reopening the path.

"A tree report of May 2020 identified the presence of ash dieback disease in a number of trees. It shouldn’t have taken what could have been a serious accident to prompt action.

"It is my belief that the lion’s share of the responsibility for the prolonged closure of the path must sit with the councillors of the open spaces committee. Cllr Burns is also the ward councillor for Ashdell where King’s Pond is located, yet she has continually failed to voice the concerns of local residents while simultaneously appearing blind to the poor state of the site."

Town council clerk Leah Coney said Cllr Burns was "currently unavailable for comment". She added: "No contractor was available before September. It takes time to put the work out to quotation, undertake site visits with potential contractors, for them to then submit a quote for members to choose a supplier and action the works to be undertaken and for the contractor to schedule the works around existing commitments.

"All high priority trees were actioned from the report on this site. Only one was recommended for immediate removal as a high risk.

"Last financial year the town council spent £20,698 actioning tree risks arising from the May 2020 report. If officers actioned every tree on council land which has a priority rating below ’high’ the budget would need to increase from around £20,000 to nearer £500,000.

"A claim that the open spaces committee and its leadership is failing residents is a subjective opinion held by Mr Furnival.

"Anyone who knows Cllr Burns is aware of her passion and commitment both to the council and working on behalf of her residents. Such personal comments made are therefore incredibly upsetting to receive."

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