The chairman of Penarth Civic Society, Mr James Long, has given members details of the deal done with the Vale of Glamorgan Council about felling street-trees in Penarth without public consultation – a undertaking which was promptly broken by the council.
It’s also emerged that Penarth Civic Society has even offered to contribute financially towards the costs which would be incurred by the Vale Council in replacing felled trees with new trees in their original locations – but to no avail.
The chairman said that over the last year the committee had followed up the “widespread concerns of the apparent decimation of urban trees in Penarth” which had been expressed by members at the last annual general meeting of the Civic Society at which the preservation of trees in Penarth had been made the society’s “main priority”.
He said that in November 2015 the society had arranged a meeting with senior officers of Vale of Glamorgan Council to discuss a “tree strategy” developed by the council . The meeting had discussed what he called “the main reason for the removal of street trees – which is risk and the fear of litigation”.
The meeting had also discussed the Vale Council’s strategy of replacing felled trees. “But” Mr Long said “the one they replace – say an oak tree or a jasper tree – would not be replaced by another jasper tree – but by a sapling planted in Cosmeston or somewhere else”.
The chairman said that in the meeting with the Civic Society, the Vale Council officials had committed to “consult and work in partnership with the Penarth Civic Society” and would be “ happy to consult the society prior to any tree removals in the Penarth area – and that a senior officer would contact the society prior to any planned tree-removals or major tree-work in Penarth” .
The Vale Council Mr Long said, had also said it would be happy to be represented on any group being set up and would also discuss “replacement trees and root protection systems and also the possibility of sharing costs .” The chairman said that the Society – as a charity – “might be able to give a grant to assist the local authority in planting trees in the streets”
Unfortunately – the chairman said – the Vale of Glamorgan Council did not consult the Society about what he called “the decimation of trees above Penarth Portway and Terra Nova Way , nor the recent tree- removal at Clive Place and we were not really consulted about the demolition of the chestnut tree in Augusta Road ” . Mr Long said the Penarth Civic Society was “disappointed”.
The chairman went on to say that a “Tree Forum” had been organised on January 14th which had been well supported by interested groups including Gwyrddio Penarth Greening, Friends of Belle Vue, Friends of Dingle Park, the Marina Residents Association and others. The meeting had considered the strategies adopted by other cities to preserve and enhance street trees.
On March 2nd there had been a further meeting at which a group had been set up under secretary Dr Anne Crowley . It is this group which will now deal specifically with the Vale Council with regard to a “Tree Strategy Arrangement” .
A year ago Penarth Civic Society had been at the brink of collapse because it couldn’t fill vacancies on its committee – but the organisation has now bounced back with a growing membership list increasing popular support. There was a full turn out last night for the Society’s Annual General Meeting held at Hampton’s Blue Pelican restaurant in Ludlow Lane.
The chairman – James Long – said that a year ago the Society had been in what he called “a very difficult situation” because long-standing members had retired and the executive committee had been dwindled to only two members. However, after media publicity about the society’s plight, new members had joined the committee . He wanted to thank Chris Wyatt – who runs the society website – for making “his knowledge and experience available” to the new committee and Society president Chris Loyn whose support, enthusiasm and encouragement had been “invaluable” .He also acknowledged the work of Tracey Alexander in editing the Society newsletter and local artist Diana Mead for her beautiful illustrations .
The main committee had now, he said, “re-established the presence of the Society in the town”.