Statement on works to the pond at bells Hill Rec.

The pond in Bells Hill Rec.

The tree works undertaken this week have generated a lot of discussion and criticism of the Parish Council. This statement aims to introduce some facts into the debate.

The Parish Council was contacted by a Willow Park resident about flooding of gardens following heavy rain in October 2020. She subsequently arranged for a drainage consultant to make a site visit and invited the Parish Council to be represented at the site visit.

The site visit took place on Sunday 29 November 2020. Cllrs Carter and Finan attended. The consultant surveyed the pond and advised that vegetation surrounding the pond should be cut back to prevent leaves falling into the pond and silting it up. One resident requested that a bough of the oak be removed as it shed leaves onto her garden. It was noted that the old fence on the boundary with the recreation ground needed replacing as the fence posts were cracked and broken, resulting in the fence falling in towards the pond. The residents also asked for the willows to be pollarded, which was agreed.

The Parish Council invited contractors to quote for the work. They visited the site at the same time and both pointed out that the old fence would need to be removed to allow tree surgeons access to the trees and saplings on the ‘rec.’ side of the pond. It was noted that some vegetation had grown through the chain link fence and would be lost when the fence was removed. Also there was ivy which was seen to be restricting the growth of some of the trees and needed to be removed. The contractors agreed that there were some important interdependencies, so agreed that they would do the work at the same time. The tree surgeon advised that removing one bough from the oak would leave it unbalanced and liable to being blown down in high winds so recommended that a bough on the opposite side also be removed to restore balance.

The recreation and environment committee subsequently accepted quotations from both contractors and authorised the start of the work. The Clerk to the parish advised the resident who had organised the site meeting and asked her to inform her neighbours.

With the work in progress, the tree surgeon balanced up the oak and found a large split in the centre of the oak caused by disease. He advised the clerk that the tree should be felled as a health and safety precaution. The clerk authorised this work.

Accusations that the Parish Council is not committed to ecology are not true. A councillor asked Buckinghamshire Council officers twice whether an ecology survey was necessary for the tree works and their response was that it wasn’t required. The Parish Council also checked whether any of the trees was covered by a Tree Preservation Order – none were. The owner of the tree surgery company is an active environmentalist and he took steps to ensure there were no birds’ nests in any of the trees he was asked to remove.