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Couple's fears over 'dangerous' tree in Bushey protected by Tree Preservation Order
A retired couple that have been fighting a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) for two years believe their "lives have been put at risk" by falling branches.
Tom Cullen and his wife Violet, of Nightingale Road, are "horrified" that two large branches have fallen from the chestnut tree in the garden next door.
The tree was given a TPO by Hertsmere Borough Council almost two years ago for its "amenity and/or intrinsic beauty" - meaning the Cullen’s could not do anything to the tree without getting permission from the council.
The couple are upset after branches have fallen into their garden from the tree in June and early last month when St Jude hit.
Mrs Cullen, 69, said: "Thankfully we were in Ireland at the time of both incidents, but we would most likely have died if we had been in the garden at the time."
The couple, who have lived in their home for 30 years, are fearful that more branches will fall and have put up makeshift fencing around the site tree.
Mr Cullen, 67, said: "We quite like the tree. It has been here since we moved in, but we do not believe a tree protection order should not have been put on because it is in a bad condition.
"We have a duty of care to people that visit our house that something bad does not happen to them so this situation is worrying."
Mr Cullen said that no physical testing was completed before the order was put on, and the judgement was based on a visual assessment.
Mrs Cullen continued: "Putting the order in has endangered our lives.
"I don’t mind the tree, although I am allergic to it, but it is now a danger. This is not what we wanted from our retirement, to be constantly worrying."
Mr Cullen, who said he has suffered from stress-related problems because of the matter, said when the branch fell in June there was hardly any wind, emphasising the danger.
He said: "The tree is preserved because it is a public amenity. It is funny though because the public cannot see it.
"I would understand the tree order being place if the tree was healthy, but this one is not in a good condition at all. "
After Mr Cullen heard about the TPO he requested to see the TPO register, but said he was denied on two occasions leading to a TPO audit - costing the council £4, 335.
Anna Cotton at Hertsmere Borough Council said: "Council officers and councillors have been involved in lengthy discussions with Mr Cullen about this matter over some time, including a meeting with our legal services manager this week.
"We have exhausted all avenues with Mr Cullen regarding the serving of the TPO which was granted under due process and he has been advised that he can contact the ombudsman if he wants to take the matter any further.
"Any issues with the tree are a civil matter which Mr Cullen needs to discuss with the owner of the tree. The council has no power to instruct the owner of the tree to carry out any works on it, however, out of courtesy we will be sending a tree officer round to have a look and provide any informal advice to the owner if it is merited."
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