Fife Council’s handling of complaints caused by trees across the Glenrothes area is at crisis point , the town’s councillors have been told.
Beleaguered officers last year were swamped with over 400 public complaints with one prominent councillor saying the issue had now overtaken dog fouling as the number one concern for residents in her constituency.
It’s estimated a further £120,000 will be required between 2016 and 2018 if the management of woodland areas across the town are to be brought to an acceptable level
“The problem we have is that most of the trees were planted at the same time 70 years ago and they now all need attention at the same time,” said Cllr Fiona Grant.
“We now have a situation whereby we have a reduced workforce only acting on an emergency basis .
“We must agree this support to tackle the huge backlog of complaints, it’s an issue that has overtaken that of dog fouling in the level of complaints I receive from the public.”
Her comments followed a request to Gelenrothes area committee for £40,000 to implement a tree management plan and to address the most pressing problem areas.
It’s estimated a further £120,000 will be required between 2016 and 2018 if the management of woodland areas across the town are to be brought to an acceptable level.
“We have lost 15 staff positions because of budget cuts and we are struggling to cope with the amount of complaints,” said Jim Leitch, team manager for Fife Council’s parks, streets and open spaces department.
He added: “With no previous tree management plan in place my estimation is it could take up to 20 years to bring all the trees in Fife Council’s ownership up to a manageable condition and that is unacceptable.”
Councillors unanimously agreed the funding request and called for a workshop to be urgently set up to deal with the growing problem.
The possible use of apprentices to help overcome staffing shortages will also be considered.
Councillor John Wincott recently appointed by his fellow Glenrothes colleagues to act as representitive for Fife Council when dealing with tthe Woodland Trust and Greenbelt Ltd, the two organisations who manage much of the woodland across the Glenrothes area, has called for a root and branch overhaul of Fife Council’s current approach to tree management for the entire Glenrothes area and has suggest a long term approach be adopted without delay.
“We can agree this £40,000 of funding now allow for us to tackle the urgent requirements this year, but we need to set up a workshop that will decide a clear five year plan to decide once and for all what we want our town to look like,” Cllr Wincott told the committee.