Family ‘terrifed’ after branch falls on garden

By Steve Peacock in Other News

A family have been left in fear for their safety after part of a massive beech tree crashed onto their garden trampoline where their two young children had been playing just hours before.

Joanna and Terry Johnson-Laird want the diseased tree on a hedge bank in Copland Lane, Totnes, cut down before any more branches fall into their garden or the tree topples.

But so far nobody has been prepared to claim responsibility for the tree – although the county council cleared away one branch that fell blocking the green lane which was closed on safety grounds, said Joanna.

The 60ft high tree towers over the family’s garden in Copland Meadow where Joanna and Terry live with their children James, eight, and Lewis, two and a half.

“I have been terrified with the kids playing out there in the garden. If it fell it would cover the whole garden.

“Anyone in the garden would not stand a chance. The tree needs to come down but so far nothing has happened,” said Joanna.

She fears that the tree is so huge it could damage the decking just outside the family’s back door – or the house itself – as well as being a danger to anyone in the garden if it fell in their direction.

“Nobody seems to want to take responsibility for it,” she said.

A large branch fell from the tree blocking the green land just before the end of last month, explained Joanna.

A second even larger branch fell three days later on Friday June 30 crushing the children’s trampoline and wrecking the couple’s hedge.

The trampoline was totally destroyed and is still buried under the remain of the branch.

“Luckily it happened at 10pm at night but the children had been playing on it earlier that day. It could have fallen at any time. We heard sounds like firecrackers as a huge part of the tree fell into the garden.”

She said that tree surgeons who have inspected the tree have said that it is suffering from a root disease.

“From what we have heard from different tree surgeons it is probably hollow inside. It shed two massive branches in two days which is a really bad sign. It does not look well,” added Joanna.

She said South Hams District Council had refused to accept liability and had told Joanna that the tree was on “unregistered land”.

A council spokesman said it does not have any grounds maintenance remit in Copland Meadow and does not own the lane or the tree.

A Devon County Council spokesman said: “The ownership of the tree is uncertain. As a matter of urgency, following the branches that fell across the footpath, we instructed an independent tree expert to assess the tree’s condition and risk to people using the footpath by it.

“We’re told the tree is in a safe condition but that it will need some attention within the next six months.

“Now we know that it’s safe to do so, we’ll reopen the footpath, but we’ll need to find out who owns the tree to ask them to carry out the recommended work to it.”

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