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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Handing over to a very worthy successor

After 13 years as a city councillor (9 of those as a Green), my term of office is coming to an end.  On Thursday the voters of St Michaels ward in Liverpool will decide if I will be succeeded by local resident Anna Key for the Green Party or by her Labour Party challenger.

I know Anna well from her work with local resident communities and as a fellow school governor in the school where we both have children.  I am impressed.  Despite not having English as her first language (she was born in Poland), she has a strong grasp of local issues and concerns as well as the radical Green Party philosophy.

Of course, with a simultaneous general election, the result of the council elections are more uncertain.  Last time the Green vote was twice the size of the Labour vote, but we cannot take that margin for granted: it may be very close.

What do we know about the Labour candidate?  We're told he has experience as a councillor at a senior level in the past.  And I'm told he made a decent fist of that role.  What's incomplete is that his leaflets don't tell which party he represented when he was last on the Council (it wasn't Labour).

Over the years, the Green Party has had to deal with negative campaigning from both Lib Dems and Labour.  I am disappointed that this continues and does not bode well if we had a Labour councillor sitting alongside the continuing Greens.

The latest example includes a misinformed or malicious personal smear on our candidate Anna Key.  Anna has acted on professional advice to remove some unsafe overcrowded poplar trees from her garden in order to plant some more suitable specimens.

There was a not very well informed press report here.  Labour seized on this and exaggerated it.  I find it really creepy that the Labour agent thought it was legitimate to try to stir up ill feeling by calling on her neighbours behind her back.  in fact the people who actually live near her house know about the reasons for the tree removal and welcome it.  Anna describes the full story below.

When we bought our house we were advised by our solicitors that we would potentially be liable for the pavement damage as well as any injuries or damage falling branches may cause. The trees were also interfering with the street lighting. After seeking advice from several tree surgeons we decided that the best course of action would be to get rid of them as if they were to be reduced it would make them weaker (their branches 'panic grow') which would render them even more prone to snapping.
Our potential liabilities were one of our main reasons to have them removed but potential damage to the house also played a big part. Some were very close to the house and we were told their roots might be  interfering with the house's foundations. Some of them were over 60 feet tall and less than 10 feet away from the house. Several insurance companies have told us our insurance premium would be significantly higher if the trees were to stay.
These are not the right trees for town gardens as they grow too tall too quickly. Due to their enormous height they were making our garden and house as well as the garden of our next door neighbour very dark. Our next door neighbour was delighted to hear that we were getting rid of them and helped with the works himself. Due to density of their branches they generated heavy leaf fall both into our and our neighbours' gardens but also onto the pavement of Promenade Gardens making it slippery and dangerous.
We will replace them with more sustainable and appropriate trees that will be here to stay for many years to come.

It's worth noting, too, that the Riverside Gardens area has contained many other copses of trees left over from the 1984 garden festival.  For that event, many fast-growing trees were planted close together to create an immediate effect: they were never intended to be a permanent plantation.  Indeed, local councillors have helped residents in Floral Wood and Cottonwood to remove and/or reduce a stand of overcrowded trees left over and unmaintained since 1984.