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Town council approves tree survey works, as ash dieback found in Thatcham

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A series of tree works are to be carried out in the town, approved by Thatcham Town Council.

Overgrown trees and those affected by ash dieback are to be treated, following a recent tree survey commissioned by the council.

The survey found that out of hundreds of trees, only 27 will need works – “less than anticipated” – though Thatcham Town Council services and health and safety manager Mike Aslin told the council: “They will eventually become high risk in some areas if they’re not dealt with.”

Many affected trees will be cut back.
Many affected trees will be cut back.

He told the working party, after getting quotes from surveying companies, that the works would cost the council £5,105, but, if left it until later, the work “can be more expensive”.

Mr Aslin highlighted some of the cases seen in the area: “At the cemetery, we’ve had three trees leaning over residential properties that had to have some work done to them.

“The whole of the CCTV system went down for Thatcham town centre due to tree growth. There was two problems, infrastructure on CCTV but also trees outside council offices have grown to such proportions that the signal from the CCTV goes via the laser from the town centre, up the road to a street light, bounces across from there and was obscured by tree branches.”

Councillor Steve Ardagh-Walter (Con, Thatcham Colthrop and Crookham) said: “On that theme of trees, I have sad news.

"Significant ash dieback has been diagnosed around the junction of Crookham Hill and Burys Bank Road.

“Because of both safety and spread of this disease, a lot have to come down, so West Berkshire Council is going to be cutting a lot of trees sometime early [this] year near that junction.

“Sadly ash dieback is a massive and really serious and unstoppable thing.”

Mr Aslin noted: “In future years you’ll need additional surveys to check the health and safety of the tree. There will be presumably more costs in another year.”

He said that ash dieback and dead wood were significant problems and, depending on the scope of work, it is hard to say how much further works will cost.

Mike Cole (Lib Dem, Thatcham North East) said that money was tight for such an expenditure.

He said: “We are looking at potential shortfall of surplus of expenditure over income of this year and that might go further with Covid.”

However, councillors agreed that it would be safer to tend to tree problems “sooner rather than later”, and unanimously approved that the works go ahead.

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