Three mature trees have been so badly damaged by Hertfordshire County Council contractors working for Herts Highways on pavement repairs at Mobbsbury shops, Mobbsbury Way, Stevenage, that the tree officer for Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) was called in and ordered the immediate removal of two of the trees and severe pruning of the third tree on safety grounds.
Borough and county councillor for the area, Robin Parker (Liberal Democrat) alerted Herts Highways to uneven dangerous paving slabs at the location, near the cycle racks at one end of the parade of shops, in April, in response to a complaint form a local elderly resident who said that she sometimes tripped on the paving on her weekly visit to the shops. Herts Highways did not manage to solve the problem to the satisfaction of either Robin or the resident, so Herts Highways undertook to replace the slabs with tarmac during June. Work started on site on 18.6.2010.
“What was meant to be a fairly minor repair job has turned into major disruption and damage” said Robin Parker. “The works team attempted to remove material to a depth of 25 cm, but found major tree roots in the way, from the three trees next to the path, and damaged them. I understand such works teams are supposed to work round tree roots when possible and not cut roots wider than “a thumb” but the one they tried to cut was as wide as a leg. They called in SBC’s tree officer and his opinion was that the root damage meant that it was not safe to leave two of the trees standing, and the third needed severe pruning, because otherwise strong winds could bring all of them down.”
“I have asked for a full report on the matter. The trees have been there since 1963 when the shops opened and they were a pleasant addition to the street scene, which is now ruined. I have also already asked for them to be replaced. Even more worrying is that Herts Highways plan to do similar works at other locations in Stevenage and this could mean that we lose trees all over Stevenage which contribute a lot to the local environment. I have also asked that this whole issue be examined as soon as possible.”
“Finally, for over a week now, the works have closed the pavement and pedestrians have been seen walking instead in Mobbsbury Way, a road about which there are already major road safety concerns.”