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Ealing resident urges council to act as tree collapses

A Hanwell resident claims he has been waiting for months for local authorities to act to prevent a ‘dangerous’ tree from falling. Sohail Khan told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that half his garden has had to be abandoned for fear that the multi-branched tree could collapse at any moment.

The tree has already begun to fall, partially tearing up the foundations of Mr Khan’s shed and threatening to crush his and his neighbours’ fences. As a father of four recovering from serious surgical complications, Mr Khan says the garden is a crucial area of his cramped two-bedroom council property for him and his children to relax.

Mr Khan said he reported the issue to the council in February but was still waiting for action to be taken. However, Ealing Council has stated that the tree’s maintenance is the resident’s responsibility as part of his tenancy agreement but has offered to pay half the costs to get the tree removed.

Ealing resident urges council to act as tree collapses Harrow Online
Sohail Khan, Collapsing Tree, Hanwell. Permission for use by all LDRS partners. Credit: Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

The council said it provided quotes to Mr Khan for two options – to have it stacked on site, or removed.

Mr Khan did not appear to be aware of that when he spoke to LDRS at the beginning of May. Instead, he said he was informed that due to it being a health and safety issue the council would remove the tree.

He claimed: “This all started in February. We had the head of London borough of Ealing trees department come down within 48 hours and said ‘This is a health and safety [concern]. Normally we would get the resident or the tenant to pay it but because it’s health and safety we are going to cover the costs’.”

Mr Khan says the council’s tree surgeon contractor attended the property and after inspecting the tree said that it needed to be removed completely. However, after a few weeks, Mr Khan said he was informed by his housing officer that the council did not want to cover the costs.

Unclear on exactly what to do next, Mr Khan said he reached out to the deputy leader of the council Deirdre Costigan, and then leader Peter Mason, but received very little in response. The delays, Mr Khan alleges, are a sign that the council is attempting to prioritise money over the safety of his children.

“I have four young children,” he says, “but I’m not going to let them come down here because you can tell it’s going to go. It’s not if, it’s when now.

Ealing resident urges council to act as tree collapses Harrow Online
psing, Hanwell. Permission for use by all LDRS partners. Credit: Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

“It’s a massive job, it’s causing damage to not only my property but also to my neighbours’.” He continued: “I told my neighbours ‘look I’m honestly waiting for the council, do I pay it? If I pay it, it’s going to be a struggle.’”

His lack of certainty about the council’s overall response seems to have frustrated Mr Khan the most, with the local authority allegedly saying it would pay, then backtracking and offering to cover half the costs.

In the four months it has taken to finalise the offer, Mr Khan says the tree situation has only gotten worse. “It’s getting worse. This is a health and safety [issue],” he said at the end of May.

A council spokesperson said: “The council’s estate services have been working with Mr Khan to find a suitable solution to remove the failing tree in his back garden.

“Although it is Mr Khan’s responsibility to maintain the tree under the terms of his tenancy agreement, we have offered to pay half of the costs to remove the tree. Mr Khan would need to pick up the other half. We provided Mr Khan quotes for two options – to have the tree stacked on site or removed. Our recommendation is to remove as stacking on site would take up a significant amount of the garden.

“We understand that Mr Khan is keen to get this resolved, as are we, and once he identifies the option he would like we will instruct the tree surgeons accordingly.”

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