Tree warnings ‘ignored’ prior to storm

The huge tree branch fell down directly on top of a residential garden
The huge tree branch fell down directly on top of a residential garden

Report by Victoria Munro, Local Democracy Reporter

A Leytonstone man who says he warned the council for years about a “dangerous” tree near his home wants compensation after an enormous branch destroyed his garden.

During a storm in late August, a large tree branch fell into Azmat Khan’s garden in John Drinkwater Road, damaging a marble table, a brick wall, benches and a fence, only ten minutes after children had been playing outside.

In May, a branch broke off the same tree and damaged his car. Azmat said he first told Waltham Forest Council the tree seemed unhealthy in 2017 and sent more than 30 emails about it over the years.

Clyde Loakes, a Leytonstone councillor and cabinet member for environment, admitted the council intended to prune the tree but “other urgent works were carried out first”.

Azmat said: “I have been asking the council why this has happened. When I emailed they said ‘we are doing something about it’ but nothing was done at all. Fortunately no-one was harmed. This could have easily killed a family member or, if it toppled over the other way, killed innocent children in Henry Reynolds Park.

“I’m no tree expert but even through the naked eye it’s evident that the tree was not in fit condition.”

Azmat said he was disappointed Cllr Loakes had seemed “dismissive” of his concerns, and added he expected compensation from the council for the repairs that would be needed on his garden wall and gutters on the second floor of his house.

Cllr Loakes said: “We are sorry for any distress and inconvenience caused by this incident. The tree lost a branch in May this year, after which it was made safe and inspected fully with some pruning being recommended to reduce the remaining branches in the best interests of the tree.

“This work required road closure permits to be arranged so that it could be carried out safely, and because the inspection showed the tree to be safe other urgent works were carried out first.

“Unfortunately, the unseasonably strong Storm Ellen caused further damage and we arranged immediate action. Officers cleared the damage and re-inspected the tree, pruning the remaining branches.”