UKTC Archive

Councils Carrying Out Tree Inspections on Private Land

Subject: Councils Carrying Out Tree Inspections on Private Land
From: Michael Lawson
Date: Dec 20 2011 18:04:15
"The proposal is that we would carry out inspections on private trees, for a 
fee and as long as the trees are not covered by any statutory protection."

It would be wise to look at this matter across a range of issues:

*         Public Purse

*         Public Policy

*         Equitability

*         Conflicts of interest

*         Impacts

Local Government is funded through taxes paid for by all of us. Central and 
local government funding delivers services at the local, regional and 
national level. However a balanced economy requires a private sector tax base 
that is in equilibrium with the requirements of government spending and able 
to support the policy driven service and infrastructure requirements of UK 

That is currently not the case. Currently there is a very wide disparity 
nationally which is at unsustainable levels in the regions. How does charging 
(that is competing) with the private sector square with Central Governments 
need to generate more private sector employment and taxes to rebalance the 
regions crippled by a too large state infrastructure?

Charging out for technical services by Councils who provide a too costly 
administrative, support, office and pension base suggests over capacity. It 
is this over capacity which is making a return to growth so difficult.

The Council would effectively be subsidising a competitive market against its 
own tax base - which I would suggest is suicidal.

The Council would be potentially harming local businesses, increasing local 
unemployment and forcing skills away from its administrative area by charging 
a fee to compete with its fee charging private sector, which I would suggest 
is suicidal.

If there is the time for these surveys, for the web site and brochures, for 
the administration and reports, templates and training, the investigative 
hardware and software, then your have spare capacity. It is not in the public 
interest, the public purse or policy to seek to harm the private sector by 
subsidised competitive effort.

It is hardly equitable to seek to compete against SMEs and small traders 
without the subsidy, with overdrafts, mortgages, supplier creditors, crown 
creditors and long debtor days.

Equally the individual officer will inevitably become embroiled in real 
conflicts of interest, interests over land, advice, professional standing, 
report recommendations.

Lets start simply, by charging a fee you owe a direct and immediate duty of 
care to the client recipient. You will also make your Council sufficiently 
contractually "proximate" to allow a whole raft of liabilities that you can 
currently avoid drop into the Councils in-box.

Customers will need to have copies of terms and conditions prior to 
appointment, your report will be for their use alone, the information you 
generated could not and must not be used to disadvantage your client. There 
would be issues of professional indemnity, employers liability, of complaints 
and insurance issues of a general kind should a tree fail.

You will become at risk of entrapment and of risks of allegations of 

There would be so many negative impacts, impacts on impartiality and a 
general failing of the esteem in which local officials are often held, 
impacts on the nature and extent of the private sector, impacts on the tax 
base, impacts on complaint levels to Councils, impacts on the UKs 

However the central point for me is, if you can afford to look at this you 
are over-manned. Think about it another way, are you willing to be spun out 
as an arm's length consultancy with a 2 year contract which will then be 
freshly procured, are you confident your service would retain the loyalty of 
the LA, ask the RSLs the same question.

Michael Lawson
Managing Director

Landscape Planning Group Ltd
Arboriculture . Ecology . Landscape . Forestry

4 The Courtyards
Phoenix Square
Severalls Park

T: 01206 XXXXXX
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