Outsourcing feared by volunteer aboriculture group.
The Hackney Marshes parks depot in Homerton Road sits on council-owned land behind the Irish Traveller site just west of the junction with Ruckholt Road.
In a modest building in the E9 5TR depot is the nerve centre of the borough’s tree-care operation and, according to the Tree Musketeers voluntary group, it tends to almost 60,000 trees in the borough.
Now, the Musketeers tell Loving Dalston, the tree unit is “threatened with closure”.
They say that the council has already cut the unit’s staff to two managers and “two remaining arborists of the once 36-strong team”.
A job for more than four people? One would think so, say the Musketeers, but there is a proposal at the town hall to disband the unit – or “restructure”, to use one of Hackney’s lazier euphemisms.
The Musketeers add: “Members of the tree unit have a knowledge, gained over many years, of the requirements of a vast number of trees in Hackney borough – including, for example, the 60 or so in Abney Park Cemetery nature reserve that have been classified as ‘veterans’.
“If the proposed restructuring goes ahead, contractors will be brought in to carry out tree-maintenance works: they will work to fixed prices and tight timescales.”
Russell Miller of Tree Musketeers told Loving Dalston: “The proposal is to outsource all surgery work, removing the remaining tree gang, currently only two climbers.
“Hackney will be left with one tree officer and a surveyor for 60 parks, 10,000 street trees and about 50 hectares (124 acres) of woodland.” The plan could be put into effect in June.
John Wade, Hackney’s head of parks, refused to confirm or deny that the unit was threatened with closure.