JUST weeks after Blackbird Leys’ enormous first Christmas tree was erected, a councillor is calling for overgrown “monster” specimens on the estate to be dealt with.
Linda Smith represents Blackbird Leys on Oxford City Council and will address the council’s executive board on the issue today.
According to people living on the estate some of the trees were planted in the 1950s alongside the houses themselves – and have not been pruned since.
Ms Smith said: “What people love about living in Blackbird Leys is the green spaces and all the greenery, not just in the park but between the houses.
“Some residents say that when they moved here it was like moving to the countryside. People really do appreciate it. But now there are a few incidents where we have got some some real monster trees, and the council needs to do something about it.”
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The offending trees are scattered around the estate, with some notable specimens in Warburg Crescent, Merlin Road, Skylark Place, Ladenham Road and Field Avenue.
Residents have raised the issue with Ms Smith over a year of doorstep visits. She said she believed it was one of the most common complaints after parking.
She added: “Some people say the trees are blocking out light so there’s not any sunlight getting into their bedrooms.
“In other areas, they’re dropping leaves and other organic debris. In some areas birds are roosting in trees right over parking spaces and residents don’t want to use them because of the state their cars get left in.
“And some are overhanging people’s gardens, which is a headache. They have grown too big for their setting.”
The council’s tree management policy was brought into effect after the death of Angela Regoczy, 22, when a tree fell on her family’s parked car in Gloucester Street in the city centre during a violent storm in 2002.
It prioritises work on trees based on dangers or obstructions, and does not permit felling based on bird droppings, aphids, blocked light, size or newly-installed dropped kerbs.
Ms Smith said: “I understand there’s not any spare money to spend on this. But I think the situation in Blackbird Leys and other estates is slightly different because the council built the estate, and planted them, so it’s a responsibility as a landlord.
“I would be very disappointed if they don’t do anything.”
City councillor Alex Hollingsworth, who sits on the executive board, said: “If this is tied with a safety or structural issue it’s imperative that it takes priority over everything else.
“But we have people in other parts of the city who just want to chop theirs down, and that is not a good reason. Clear parts of the policy will be applied.
“So far the tree policy has been effective. If the council thinks it’s not working we would look at it.
“At the moment we want to protect trees in the streets. There are some councils, like Manchester, that seem to be ambivalent about theirs but we think the trees are a fundamental part of what Oxford is.”