'They don't care': Retired couple slam council over 'dangerous' tree

Kate Ferris from Thorpe St. Andrew has been trying to get permission from Broadland council to cut d

Kate Ferris from Thorpe St Andrew has been trying to get permission from Broadland council to cut down the huge Scots pine tree in her garden but they say it must be protected. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

A retired couple are battling with a council over a massive Scots pine they want cut down to avoid getting hurt by falling branches.

Kate Ferris from Thorpe St. Andrew has been trying to get permission from Broadland council to cut d

The damage done by the huge branch which broke off from the tree in the front garden of Kate and Roy Ferris' Thorpe St Andrew home. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

Kate and Roy Ferris, aged 76 and 84, of South Avenue, Thorpe St Andrew, awoke to find their car's roof dented and wing mirror smashed after a large branch fell off overnight in the bad weather.

Kate Ferris from Thorpe St. Andrew has been trying to get permission from Broadland council to cut d

The massive Scots pine tree, towering over Kate Ferris and her bungalow home in Thorpe St Andrew. - Credit: Neil Didsbury

But they say the towering tree in their front garden, regularly sheds heavy branches. 

They say their gardener was almost struck on the head a while ago and fear for their six grandchildren, who before Covid, play in the front garden.

When the couple moved into the bungalow 10 years ago, they quickly realised the tree, on their land, was a hazard and asked for Broadland District Council to cut it down.

Kate Ferris from Thorpe St. Andrew has been trying to get permission from Broadland council to cut d

Kate Ferris from Thorpe St Andrew has been trying to get permission from Broadland council to cut down the huge pine tree in her garden but they say it must be protected. - Credit: Neil Didsbury


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But the council slapped a TPO, tree preservation order, on it meaning it was illegal to remove it.

Even after a costly appeal, the council refused to overturn the TPO and the couple have dodged its branches ever since.

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When contacted by this newspaper, Broadland District Council  advised the couple to ask for an inspection from a qualified tree surgeon immediately. 

Mrs Ferris, a retired IT tutor, said: "If I had been getting out of my car when it happened, I might not be here today. A branch narrowly missed our gardener too who said if he'd had his headphones on listening to music, he wouldn't have heard it falling.

"I felt really upset when it hit my car, it's damaged the roof and the wing mirror where it bounced off and hit the ground. But it's not about the car, it's dangerous. We live in a cul-de-sac so it's not as if anyone is going to be gazing in wonderment at the tree. 

"When I phoned the council, I said I was really upset about this tree but they just told me to get the path cleared. Our tree regularly sheds branches and they are about the size of my torso, we're not talking about twigs falling. They just don't seem to care."

A Broadland District Council spokesman said: "Back in 2012, a TPO was made in the light of the tree being in a conservation area. They need to ask for a tree surgeon to take a look; if he considers it to be dangerous, work can be done immediately. However, the tree cannot be chopped down."

What is a TPO? A tree preservation order is made by a local planning authority to protect specific trees in the interest of amenity. It is a criminal offence to breach a TPO. If you do, you can be fined up to £2,500 or, if the tree is destroyed, subject to an unlimited fine.

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