Privatisation provides value for money, insists council.
Private contractors have planted about 4,000 trees for Hackney council — but they are all dead or dying. And at an estimated cost of £100,000.
The claims are made by Russell Miller, of the Tree Musketeers voluntary group, who adds that since January about 4,000 trees have been planted by private firms on contract to Hackney council. However, says Miller, though some will survive the lack of proper care during the hot spring – “a handful will retain a grasp on existence” — most will die.
Miller blames “a political decision to privatise Hackney’s only remaining public tree gang”, which resulted last month in “one of the most experienced tree surgeons in London” leaving the borough’s employ.
“In total around 60 years of knowledge and expertise in Hackney trees is being discarded under the guise of cuts and efficiency.”
Loving Dalston reported in January 2011 that the council had already cut the once 36-strong team to two managers and two arborists.
Jonathan McShane, Hackney council Cabinet member for arboriculture, refused to comment on the estimate that 4,000 trees are doomed at a cost of £100,000, instead insisting to Loving Dalston that “Hackney’s trees are healthy and well looked after”.
He says: “We are always looking for ways to improve how we look after them.
“After successfully using contractors for street trees, trees on estates and for larger projects in our parks for a number of years, the council now uses them for all tree work in our parks, as they provide a good service and value for money.
“This gives the arboricultural officer more time to carry out inspections.”