50-year-old Cloverdale tree saved from the chop by Belmont MLA

Bess Mitchell by the 50-year-old lily pilly tree planted by her late husband James. Picture: Marie Nirme
Bess Mitchell by the 50-year-old lily pilly tree planted by her late husband James. Picture: Marie Nirme

A 50-year-old tree in Cloverdale threatened with the chop has been given a reprieve after member for Belmont Glenys Godfrey questioned the Housing Authority on its removal.

Bess Mitchell (83) said she was heartbroken when told the lily pilly tree planted by her dead husband James was to be cut down.

“I was very upset when they told me the tree had to come down; I started crying,” she said.

Mrs Mitchell has lived in her state housing home for 50 years.

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Trouble began when the property next door was subdivided and new houses built.

The lily pilly’s branches grew over the dividing fence, dropping leaves into the neighbour’s gutter.

“(My Neighbours) never talked to me about it,” Mrs Mitchell said.

“Someone used to trim the branches for them but Housing Authority said he was unable to continue.”

Housing Authority policy states tenants are responsible for lopping trees on their property, unless they are physically unable because of disability or age.

When Mrs Mitchell’s property manager came to investigate, she told her tenant the branches would be trimmed, yet a few days later told Mrs Mitchell the whole tree would come down.

“I couldn’t understand it,” Mrs Mitchell said.

“I kept asking why, it was a perfectly healthy tree.”

Housing Authority told Mrs Mitchell trimming the tree was too expensive.

In desperation, Mrs Mitchell contacted the office of her local state member, Glenys Godfrey, who was informed by the Housing Authority that it would act within 28 days after receiving two quotes for tree removal.

Raising her objections in a formal letter, Mrs Godfrey reminded the City of Belmont’s urban forest strategy to improve the dire lack of trees in the area, as reported in the Southern Gazette.

Three days later the tree received a pardon.

Housing Authority general manager Greg Cash said it initially determined “removal would be the most cost effective means of dealing with the tree” as the private owners next door were “not in a position to contribute to pruning due to age”.

However, after being approached by Mrs Godfrey and advised of the high rate of canopy loss in Belmont, the Housing Authority “cancelled the work order to remove the tree”.

Mrs Mitchell was delighted at the news and said it was like having a weight lifted off her.

The City of Belmont implemented an Urban Forest Strategy in June 2014 after research by the University of Technology Sydney revealed Belmont had the lowest amount of tree cover in Perth, with residents facing temperatures 12 degrees above average.

One of the areas targeted for replanting was Housing Authority properties in Rivervale.