Hounslow Council Has No Money To Plant Trees in 2012

Admits cutbacks will affect replacing trees cut down

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Hounslow Council has defended its record on tree-planting in the Borough despite claims that budget cuts have left them with no funds this year to replace trees they cut down.

The Green Party candidate for the south-West in the London Assembly, Daniel Goldsmith, said the Council had admitted that they have no budget to replace any street trees removed in 2012. The response was made to a Freedom of Information Request posed by Mr. Goldsmith.

In 2011 429 street trees were removed by the Council and 437 planted across the borough.

Mr. Goldsmith said:

“Earlier this year workmen sent by Hounslow Council arrived in Oxford Gardens in Chiswick without any notice and removed a beautiful cherry tree.  We are aware of other similar incidents.  We understand that sometimes trees must be removed but now we find that because of budget cuts there are no funds to replace them.  The Mayor of London’s scheme Tree Planting scheme, which provided funds in the past, is also ending.” 

Mr. Goldsmith called on councillors to reverse the cuts. Referring to the story in Oxford Gardens, which was first revealed by ChiswickW4.com, he continued:

“Local residents have told me how they enjoyed the tree’s blossom in spring, the falling leaves in autumn and birds building their nests and feeding their young in the tree; and now the tree has gone and won’t be replaced.  People were once proud of the beautiful tree lined streets in Hounslow.  I call upon the elected members of the council to reverse these cuts.”

Mr. Goldsmith had asked in his Freedom of Information request what the budget was for street tree planting in 2012 and the Council replied:

“The London Borough of Hounslow does not have a specific budget provision for new tree planting. The monies for new tree planting in the past have become available from various funding such as Section 106, Mayor of London’s New Tree Planting Grant during 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Our elected Members during 2008-09 made a promise to plant 1000 trees in the borough, which we fulfilled as part of our objective in that year.

The London Borough of Hounslow also have a tree sponsorship scheme. Residents as well as businesses in the borough can sponsor trees at a cost of £400 per tree which includes the cost of the tree as well as maintenance for the first three years.

In the past money has come from the Mayor of London’s fund but this runs out in 2012 and nearly all the 10,000 tree promised have been planted” the statement said.

Asked about the current situation a council spokesman said: "The funding streams we used to plant trees in the past have run out, but we do have a small amount of budget for some planting across the borough. We are always looking for ways to fund tree planting, including through s106 funding from new developments, and we have a scheme where residents can sponsor a street tree in their neighbourhood."

Asked by ChiswickW4.com about local concerns that part of W4 were losing out on trees being replaced in favour of other areas of the Borough, a spokesman said:

While it is true that there is far less funding for the renewal of trees, it would be wrong to assume any area of the Borough gets preferential treatment in planting. While there is limited funding available for trees, each case is considered on its own merits”.

April 13, 2012