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Case 179 - Axe to cut down village tree to prevent kids from getting hurt

Issue

It was reported that a Parish Council are to vote on whether to fell a tree to prevent children getting hurt whilst climbing it. This follows a letter to the Parish Council on the subject, from a concerned resident.

Panel decision

This seems to be an over-reaction by the Parish Council to an every day risk. Tree climbing is a normal activity for active kids to do and helps them to learn about managing risk. Simply quoting unspecified "health and safety" as a justification for felling the tree would be risk averse and misleading. Health and safety law would only apply if the tree (or part of it) were diseased or in some way in danger of falling. It is more likely that the Council’s concern is about civil liability in the event that a climber were to fall from the tree. If this is the case they have already received advice on what can be done to discourage climbing without needing to fell the tree. The Council should be clear about the reasons for whatever decision it makes and not simply use the standard "health and safety" cover-all.

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2013-05-28