Tree intimidation

The last remaining verge tree on Mercury Place will stay, after its sibling was cleared for removal last month.

SECURITY patrols have been called into Mercury Place after a decision to remove a verge tree led to protestors driving around the Morley cul de sac.

Last month a split Bayswater council voted 6 to 5 to remove one of only two verge trees on the street, at the request of the nearest homeowner who said it was a pain due to leaf drop and interfering with their lawn. 

A petition showed they had the whole street’s support, but it’s drawn fury from other residents who’ve been vocal online and in person.

Bayswater deputy mayor Catherine Ehrhardt said at this week’s meeting: “I feel like the last four weeks have really shown us the gross side of human nature.

“Entitlement, hate, belittlement, harassment, bullying and the list goes on. 

“We have had to organise security patrols for a whole street because some people feel it is their right to drive up and down a peaceful cul de sac, pull up in people’s driveways, take photos of them and their homes, abuse them, and that is just what is happening in person.

“When I get sent screenshots of residents posting things like ‘They’re killing the tree, so they should be killed too,’ it makes me absolutely sick. 

“When did we as humans start caring so little for each other? When did we not start not even respecting that some people have different points of view?

“I, along with other councillors, have also been threatened – in person and online. Apparently we have 

to not only expect it, but also take it, because we are public people.”

Cr Ehrhardt was speaking as the council was hit by another petition from Mercury Place residents at this week’s meeting, this one stemming from a house just down the street that hosts the only other verge tree out front.

The owners wanted that one removed too. They were angry after being threatened with a fine for pruning the tree themselves ‘for aesthetic purposes’ according to a council report.

But their petition didn’t contain any reasons for removing the tree and councillors turned down this second request. They’ll instead allow it to be pruned, and review their pruning policy yet again. The policy was only just loosened in December 2022 to make it easier for residents to get verge trees trimmed (“Tree Protection Pruned”, Voice, January 15, 2022).

by DAVID BELL

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