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Mayor Tate’s rescission motion against the axing of the Laman Street Fig trees was put to the vote in Newcastle Council Meeting last night & was successful. Newcastle Council will now participate in mediation with the community over the Fig trees.

“Former High Court judge Michael McHugh will conduct the mediation between council & Save Our Figs.  His fee is estimated at $6,000 a day, with Save Our Figs to contribute towards the cost & councillor Tate offering his August councillor allowance.  Council’s insurer, Statewide Mutual, will also be invited to attend the mediation.”

The community also tabled a petition to save the Laman Street Fig trees that contained 10,323 signatures. This is the largest petition ever tabled in Newcastle Council’s history & “just short of the largest petition tabled in the New South Wales Parliament.”

Newcastle Council needs to listen to its community.  The petition is only one of the many actions & activities that the Newcastle community has done in their lengthy fight against Newcastle Council to save their beloved Laman Street Fig trees. Tree experts have also been brave enough to professionally oppose Newcastle Council’s appraisal of the safety of these trees.  They too should not be ignored.  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-08-03/community-and-council-head-to-figs-mediation/2822402

a view of part of the canopy of the Laman Street Figs from Civic Park

On 21st June 2011 the Bureau of Meteorology warned of wind gusts of 110 km/h buffeting the Hunter ahead of a strong cold front. Suddenly the weather becomes interesting because once again the Laman Street Fig trees in Newcastle are fighting for their lives.   Statewide Mutual, who insures Newcastle City Council sent a letter of demand – the trees must be removed by 31st August 2011 unless Council can provide new evidence that the trees won’t fall down.  If Council does not chop down the trees, any incident will not be covered by insurance, putting the Council between a rock & a hard place.

It seems that Statewide Mutual doesn’t have a copy of the community contracted Arborists Report by Mark Hartley, a renown & respected Arborist in Australia.  Looking at his webpage, it’s hard to understand why his opinion that these trees are safe is being ignored. http://treedoc.com.au/   Another respected Arborist, veteran tree specialist Sean Freeman has publicly stated that he supports Mark Hartley’s assessment of the Laman Street Figs after viewing the report & inspecting the trees himself.  http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/news/general/arborist-questions-fig-tree-safety-risk/1951564.aspx

Newcastle Councillor Bob Cook brought the Laman Street Figs back into the spotlight on 31st May 2011 before the letter of demand by Statewide Mutual by calling for the trees removal.  He also suggested monitoring the trees with an accelerometer on a number of occasions over 6-15 months for a cost of up to $100,000.  The cost alone is enough to make most people concede defeat.

An accelerometer measures the movement of the tree when pulled, mimicking the conditions of high winds. Thing is, Mother Nature has tested the trees for free on 4 occasions since the Pasha Bulka storm in June 2007. This storm was described as a ‘mini cyclone.’  It beached the oil tanker Pasha Bulka aground on Nobbies Beach & smashed Newcastle, yet the Laman Street trees standing today made it through that storm (and others since) unaffected. 

Clr Cook has written to the community saying they are “in denial” & “clutching at straws.”

http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/news/general/laman-trees-under-threat-again/2179599.aspx

http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/news/general/laman-street-fig-risk-studies-flawed/2199923.aspx

More than 10,000 people signed a petition to save the the Laman Street Fig trees & night vigils were held on 69 occasions

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