Open Letter from NALC Chairman Sue Baxter
NALC chairman, Cllr Sue Baxter has sent an open letter to the 100,000 parish and town councillors in England. The letter highlights a number of NALC’s lobbying successes over the last year which will save the sector millions of pounds, praises the work councils are doing in areas such health and well being and community transport, and sets out some challenges for the year ahead such as encouraging more people to stand as local councillors in May’s local elections.
Sue Baxter says: “The next twelve months will be interesting with Brexit imminent and with our sector already demonstrating both locally and nationally that we have a key role to play in helping our residents and communities negotiate the upcoming challenges”.
NALC Legal Commentary: Tree Liability
The Court of Appeal case of Witley Parish Council v Cavanagh  EWCA Civ 2232 found that a judge had been entitled to find on the evidence that the local council concerned should have inspected a large, mature lime tree next to a main road at least every two years, rather than every three years as had been its practice. The judge’s finding that the tree, which fell after a storm and seriously injured a bus driver, had been in a high-risk zone and presented a significant potential hazard was consistent with an expert opinion and Forestry Commission guidance.
The local council had appealed against the first instance decision that it was liable in negligence for failing to conduct sufficiently frequent inspections of the tree. The council owned land next to a main road and the tree was next to a bus stop. The judge took the view that the tree had been in a high-risk position and, while it was not in itself a high-risk tree, it was large and mature, it leaned into the road, and if it fell would undoubtedly cause severe damage and/or severe injury. It is not clear how much of this case turns on its particular facts. What we would take from it is the importance of inspections, particularly for trees located on council land next to highways.