UKTC Archive

RE: Councils Carrying Out Tree Inspections on Private Land

Subject: RE: Councils Carrying Out Tree Inspections on Private Land
From: John Flannigan
Date: Dec 20 2011 22:01:12
It was with some interest that about a year ago I heard Eric Pickles mention
trees. This was a rare event - CLG actually acknowledging the presence of
urban trees. Anyway, my expectant wait for some sort of strategic direction
was dashed when along with getting Councils to MOT cars he also suggested an
idea for insurers, who required an annual tree inspection of trees within a
policyholder's premises, a tree inspection service carried out by members of
Council teams using their expertise and equipment.

This appears to have fallen off the radar but I suspect the Local Government
Act and more recent changes to law would make it legal; even if other issues
make it impractical.


-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Lawson [] 
Sent: 20 December 2011 18:05
To: UK Tree Care
Subject: Councils Carrying Out Tree Inspections on Private Land

"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

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

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