Council ramps up price for planting community trees from £400 to £5k

The council has ramped up the price for members of the public wanting to “sponsor” or plant a tree in their street.

The price went up from £400 to £5,000 for each tree earlier this year, causing frustration and disappointment among members of community groups, a councillor said yesterday (Tuesday 22 June).

Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth said that some groups had hit fundraising targets, only for the goal posts to be moved.

It meant an end to the public’s involvement in a community good, he said, and was an injustice that needed to be put right.

He called for a report to outline solutions – a move backed by Labour and the ruling Greens.

Councillor Nemeth spoke out at a meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee at Hove Town Hall.

He said that tree planting projects had transformed Stoneham Road and Marmion Road, making them more “biodiverse”.

But for community groups saving up, he said, it was frustrating after the fees increased “ten-fold”.

He said that he was also frustrated by the lack of response to inquiries about funded projects for trees in Stoneham Park, Portland Road, Mainstone Road and School Road.

Councillor Nemeth said: “The great injustice though is a scheme the residents have paid for in Glebe Villas where they now hear on the grapevine that the council fee has increased from £10,000 for about 20 trees, to £100,000, which is never going to happen.

“Funds have been raised, locations have been planned and measurements have been taken by the council but the fee has gone up by £90,000.

“The £10,000 the residents have raised gets them two trees which is just laughable.”

Speaking outside the meeting, Councillor Nemeth said that Andrew Nichols, of Hove Civic Society, had described the increased costs as a “major stumbling block” that would undermine community involvement.

He also said that Lara Rix-Paradinas, of Glebe Villas, who had worked for three years to have trees planted along the street, described the increased costs as a “death knell” for any community trying to raise money for trees.

Councillor Robert Nemeth with Lara Rix-Paradinas and Andrew Nichols

Green councillor Amy Heley, who chairs the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, backed Councillor Nemeth’s call for a report into charges, after a similar situation in her ward, Preston Park.

She said: “I do understand the frustrations for residents. I’m told historically there has been a lot less interest in residents donating street trees and the previous method used were low-quality and low cost.”

She said that the council’s £15,000 tree planting budget was not enough with high demand and improved planting.

Planting on highways required the inclusion of root barriers and repairs to damage caused by previous trees, she said.

Underground infrastructure, such as electricity cables and water pipes, were also cited as part of the reason for higher charges as they might have to be moved to protect them from roots.

Councillor Heley said that the Green administration had put forward £200,000 for new street trees and offered to meet with residents from Glebe Villas.

Labour councillor Gary Wilkinson also backed Councillor Nemeth. He said: “I think it’s mindful to consider the community groups who have sourced funding to plan trees and now feel they’re being penalised in some way.

“We should protect the funding they have provided up until now.”

  1. Greens Out Reply

    This council are, without doubt, the most deluded, irresponsible, arrogant, greedy, hopeless and inept bunch of people ever to hold office.

    Absolutely unbelievable.

  2. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    I don’t understand who brought in this massive increase in charges. This is the second article I’ve read today where the relevant committee is expressing shock, horror etc and calling for a report, as if they knew nothing at all about the issue.

    Is it council officers doing what they like under delegated powers or something else? Answers please, or we’ll all be putting in FOI requests which, of course, the council won’t respond to.

  3. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    Who are the officers who slipped in this outlandish increase? It will foster a world of closed front doors, community lost.

  4. Nathan Adler Reply

    Once again officers doing what they want without any consultation with elected officials, (unless the Greens are faking innocence). Geoff Raw and Nick Hibberd need to take some personal responsibility

  5. Fred Bloggs Reply

    Why is this council called “Green” when so many policies seem anti-environment? A true environmental party would encourage more trees with subsidies. Not block them like this.

  6. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    Who knows what the truth is, Nathan. Truth, sadly, is a non-existent commodity in this council cesspit.

    It seems that all the Green-led committees actually do (particularly Ms ‘green’ Amy Heley – the word ‘green’ here is used in its past sense of totally naïve/massively out of her depth/no relevant experience of anything, and she is floundering, judging by the sheer number of pertinent questions which have been put to her committee lately and the lack of effective answers) is ‘call for a report’, which, of course, will take months, if not years – if it ever appears in public – and it will be skewed by officers. It may even be kept secret, like so many things have been kept secret recently – such as, what really went on with the appalling school transport fiasco re special needs children and the flight of Ghoshal, what went on at Cityclean, where the police were apparently involved, but nothing further has been announced about all that, unanswered FOI requests from the Brighton Society to the council about what has gone on behind the scenes with the wannabe developers of the Brighton Gasworks site (despite a formal letter from the FOI Commissioner being sent to the council), and so on.

    There is a culture of cover-up and incompetence in this council, which needs a major shake-up and clean (but don’t leave that to Cityclean, obviously).

    Hannah Clare also spouts a Green line at very boring length but says absolutely nothing of interest or value to the community – just robotic Greenspeak.

    Geoff Raw, who is serially invisible, unlike any previous CEO, needs to be hauled up before full council to answer many important questions, IN PUBLIC, and take responsibility for the shambles. Ditto re Hibberd. Not that Raw ever took any responsibility for the bin strike some years back, which was down to him, and yet he got promoted to CEO. Raw is ultimately in charge of it all, even if he has no idea at all what’s going on, as he probably doesn’t. He seems to let his subordinates do whatever they like, which is becoming increasingly unacceptable and damaging to B&H citizens. Previous CEOs have been ‘moved on’ for far less.

    A good start would be to sack Raw and Hibberd and get in people who are proactive with a good track record and for the very sad Green committee chairs to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in to the officers – calling for future reports is not the answer. However, why would anyone who is any good, want to to work for woeful B&H council in a senior role. Rhetorical, unfortunately.

  7. Rob Heale Reply

    The “Green” Councillors don’t seem to have a grip on what is going on. They are seemingly inexperienced, incompetent and inept.

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