Fallen tree branch ‘risked lives’ claim

A tree in King's School's grounds has blown over and landed in Carol Granger's garden(pictured). Mrs Granger said she has complained about the trees and the danger of them falling over for more than four years but the council refused to do anything about it.'Picture By Matthew Page
A tree in King's School's grounds has blown over and landed in Carol Granger's garden(pictured). Mrs Granger said she has complained about the trees and the danger of them falling over for more than four years but the council refused to do anything about it.'Picture By Matthew Page

ANGRY Pontefract woman Carol Grainger claims council chiefs put lives at risk by not maintaining trees near her home after a “huge” branch fell into her garden.

Mrs Grainger, of Elm Park, says the branch from the 40ft ash tree in the grounds of The King’s School fell into her garden, which backs onto the school sports fields, on Monday morning, smashing her fence.

The 64-year-old grandmother said residents on the street had complained to the council for three years about maintenance of the trees.

She said: “I was absolutely stunned when I saw that half my garden was covered with a huge tree branch.

“My first thought was that I had been working in that very spot only the day before. If the branch had fallen then, I would be dead.

“The council has risked lives by neglecting to cut back the trees and the sheer weight of the leaves has brought the branch crashing down.

“My neighbour said she heard a loud cracking and creaking sound before it fell.

“I am very lucky it didn’t fall when my family was in the garden, my granddaughter had been playing there over the weekend.

“What would have happened if it had fallen the other way into the school? That’s where the pupils do athletics – someone could have been killed.”

She added that residents on the street had sent three letters to the council and The King’s School in 2009 and 2010, asking for the trees to be cut back.

Glynn Humphries, Wakefield Council’s service director for cleaner and greener, said: “It is council procedure to check the safety and condition of the trees.

“These trees were last inspected in January 2011 and no work was needed.

“The next inspection was then due in 2014. However, from April 2012, the school employed a private contractor to carry out grounds maintenance works, which includes responsibility for the trees.

“These particular trees have a preservation order on them which means any work carried out needs to be applied for and permission needs to be granted.”

Mrs Grainger added: “I have spoken to the school and they have told me that they will be inspecting the trees four times a year to ensure they are safe for the students and surrounding houses.

“I hope that this sort of incident will not happen again. I think the school will do a better job.”