UPDATE: Following the court decision, Haringey council have announced they will remove the security operation, scaffolding and plastic. Residents are furious about the council’s unnecessary waste of time and money on these aggressive and expensive tactics.
Local residents and the Haringey Tree Protectors group are celebrating today after a tense morning. From around 7.30, campaigners began to congregate at the site of the mature plane tree in Oakfield Road which for the past five days has been wrapped in white plastic, elaborate scaffolding and fences, and guarded by a dozen masked security men.
This bizarre and very expensive council operation has apparently been necessary to ‘protect’ the tree from protesters, but the protesters want to actually protect the tree from a council intent on destroying it at the behest of insurers who don’t want to pay for underpinning houses.
The legal wrangle has gone on for a decade, and one of the affected householders has taken his insurance company Allianz to the ombudsman.
The protesters had a tense wait in this morning’s rain for a High Court judgement, which had already been adjourned from a hearing yesterday. Despite the ongoing court battle, which they may yet lose, the council has thrown public money at the security operation, and yesterday and this morning there were additional bailiffs along with a dog handler, and a team of traffic management staff ready to install new fencing and traffic lights.
At around 10.25, the news finally came through from the court. Mr Dan Squires KC ruled that an emergency injunction brought by the householder, calling for a stay of execution until the ombudsman’s report is concluded, has enough merit for a further hearing. This will take place on or around 29th. Haringey were also in court over an injunction to prevent protesters occupying an area around the tree, but this too was adjourned.
The big questions now are whether Haringey council is going to continue wasting public money on the over-the-top security, and whether they will protect the tree by removing its plastic shroud for the coming week and a half. Or are they now just trying to kill a perfectly healthy plane tree by suffocation and lack of sunlight?
The court hearing on the 29th may well lead to further delays and a possible judicial review. Surely it’s time for Haringey to listen to its “customers”.