Safety call for historic trees

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Residents of an Arrowtown street say they’re worried some of the town’s well-known trees are a safety risk, and they want the council to step up.

Bedford Street resident Jimmy Dunne says he’s called the council three times since February, asking them to send someone out to look at the two large trees directly in front of his house.

He’s been so worried they could topple onto his home, he stopped sleeping in his bedroom for a while as it was directly under where the trees would fall.

He says he hasn’t been contacted by anyone from the council, and as far as he’s aware, nobody’s been out to check them.

“My opinion is that the trees are fantastic in Arrowtown, but there’s a responsibility,” he says.

On February 1, a large tree fell onto the street during high winds, nearly crushing a courier van.

“But for the grace of God, someone wasn’t going past that tree at the time,” Dunne says.

Just down the road, fellow Bedford St resident Barbara Farrier is also worried.

She and husband Mike have been contacting the council about the trees for about six years.

“It’s terrible, it’s very distressing,” she says.

“We love the trees, but they need to be maintained.”

Council comms advisor Rebecca Pitts says a council arborist assessed the trees immediately after the storm on February 1.

“Whilst on site, the council arborist undertook a pre-liminary ground level visual assessment of the avenue trees with particular attention to their structural stability and overall condition.”

As a result, a more in-depth assessment would be completed by the end of this month, she says.

The historic avenue of protected trees that line Bedford St receive “specific specialist professional main-tenance once every three years”.

The trees also receive annual trimming work to remove new shoots.

“These high-profile trees also receive intermittent pruning either following a storm event, as a result of branches growing low over the road or obscuring a street light, following an issue raised by the public, or as a result of a fault identified by the council arborist.”

daisy.hudson@scene.co.nz