Camden Council accused of ignoring warnings over St Jude’s storm tree that ‘could have killed somebody’
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
Town hall officials have been accused of potentially putting residents in danger by failing to act on warnings that a large tree was set to fall – just days before it collapsed and narrowly missed a row of parked cars.
One resident who alerted Camden Council said someone “could have been killed” by the 50ft-high London plane, which suddenly crashed down into the road in Frognal, Hampstead, last Thursday, three days after the ferocious St Jude’s storm.
Matt McCarthy, 43, who lives in Frognal, also said he was thankful that it was the half-term holidays after the tree landed inches from University College School (UCS).
He said: “It could have killed somebody, but the council and police did zip. I called the council and the police on Monday [last week] warning them that the tree was going to go.
“It was dangerously leaning over the road towards UCS.
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“The council stated that they’d mark it as urgent and the police said they’d send somebody over to close the road.
“Obviously, it’s lucky that UCS was closed for half-term as usually the road is very busy and clearly potentially there could have been a very serious accident.”
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Daniel Gvirtzman, another Frognal resident, said the tree had already begun to lean before the storm – and he had warned the council three months ago.
“It was already leaning not far off from 45 degrees,” he said.
“I asked a council officer to check it, He had a look and said it was fine.
“He should have had a closer look.”
He added: “I arrived home 20 minutes before it fell and parked about 10 feet away. If I had parked further up the road, it would have been curtains.”
A spokesman for Camden police said officers visited the site last Monday within minutes of receiving reports of an unsafe tree.
He said police did close the road and alerted council officers, who then judged the tree safe.
A council spokesman said: “Our officers attended and after undertaking a visual inspection they concluded that the tree had been leaning prior to the storm and was stable at that time.
“The owner was not at home. As it is a privately owned tree it is not part of our inspection and maintenance programme and therefore only a visual inspection was possible. It fell on Thursday and due to it falling over the highway our contractors attended, and cleared and removed the tree the same day.”