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Tree falls onto the side of local school in grounds of Weston Green School

At approximately 08:45 on the morning of Tuesday 13th January 2015, a large branch of the Holm Oak Tree located in the grounds of Weston Green School fell onto the side of the school's Early Years Building.

By some miracle no one was injured ,as children and staff were busy arriving for the start of the school day. Straight away operations took place to cordon off the affected area and Health and Safety Officers from Elmbridge Borough Council (EBC) were called to the site immediately to ensure the site was safe. The process of removing the fallen branch swiftly followed, in consultation with Mr Alex Needs - EBC's Senior Tree Officer Mr Alex Needs who is very familiar with the tree and confirmed that there were none of the expected warning signs of 'stress' with this specimen. The tree has always been regularly checked, with the most recent work undertaken in July 2014 to reduce the tree's overhang.
The 'failure' of this tree came as a huge shock to the school community and local residents alike. Given its height and spread, this magnificent tree was much loved in Weston Green and could be seen from quite a distance. Throughout the development of Weston Green School this tree has remained a faithful landmark and provided welcome shade from the hot sun in summer months.

However, after much careful deliberation and after consultation with tree specialists, school managers and local Weston Green Councillors Tannia Shipley and Ruth Bruce, it was with heavy hearts that all agreed that the only responsible course of action would be the complete removal of the tree. Pollarding (a method of pruning that keeps trees and shrubs smaller than they would naturally grow, sometimes started when a tree reaches a certain height) was seriously considered but, as the tree split without warning, it was rightly deemed a 'suspect' tree and it was agreed it could not remain in a children's playground in such close proximity to school buildings.

The area surrounding the tree remained cordoned off for the remainder of last week and contingency plans were put in place to protect all children and staff at the school whilst minimising disruption to the school day. Parents and the immediate local residents were kept informed by the school administration.

As people might expect, this marvellous Holm Oak tree was the subject of a Tree Preservation Order. Under the terms of what is required when a TPO specimen is judged to be "dead or dangerous", Weston Green School will replace the tree before the end of the planting season (March 2015) in consultation with the EBC Tree Officers to confirm the proposed species and location for the replacement tree before it is planted. More information about Tree Preservation Orders can be found on the EBC website http://www.elmbridge.gov.uk/planning/trees/protected.htm

Susan Withers, Weston Green School Business Manager said, " The children have rather enjoyed being 'all together' . . . " (all ages have been sharing one building) . . . "and the parents and neighbours have been very understanding. Everyone's main concern has been the safety of the children."

holmoak1  HolmOak2 HolmOak3

Weston Green School, Weston Green Road, Thames Ditton, KT7 0JN Tel: 020 8398 2778 e-mail: swithers@westongreenschool.org.uk

OR

Weston Green Councillors:-

Tannia Shipley Tel: 020 8398 2484, e-mail: tshipley@elmbridge.gov.uk or Ruth Bruce Tel: 020 8398 8324 e-mail: rbruce@elmbridge.co.uk