Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Fed up Clarawood tenants can't see the world for the trees

Brian Steeson and Sam Ritchie standing in one of the few spots where the sun reaches the ground because of overgrown trees near their flats

RESIDENTS at a block of flats in east Belfast are furious that they have been left in the dark as trees around their building are cutting off vast tracts of sunlight during the day.

The occupants of 24 Clarawood Park say they have missed out on a fantastic summer of sunny weather, as the trees around the periphery of the building loom over them, touching walls in places, and with branches all the way to the ground in others.

They say that directly across the road trees are trimmed back regularly, and that although they do not want rid of the trees themselves, they'd just like to see them cut back.

Sam Ritchie, an elderly resident, who has lived in the flats for a number of years has been campaigning since last year for the flora to be trimmed back.

He believed the trees are the responsibility of Belfast City Council, but it turns out the Northern Ireland Housing Executive is responsible for the trees as they are not considered "street trees".

A spokesperson from Belfast City council said their distance from the pavement and road meant they were NIHE trees.

Sam Ritchie said: "I have no light coming into my house, I have my lights on all day long because it's so dark.

"It's been years since they cut any of them – four or five years – and over the street they are cut every year.

"They're not as big as the ones at the back of our houses. Even the roots of them are knocking up the pavements.

"They've just got out of control and need cut back."

His neighbour Brian Steeson, who has arthritis in his hip and spine, said: "They're down to the ground in some places and touching the top of the building just outside my flat.

"They're even all joining together, I used to get sun in the summer from about four to eight at night, and I could sit out my front. I had chairs and seats, but there's no point now.

"The leaves are continually all falling into my yard and I have to come out every day to sweep it all up.

"Sam's been trying all year to get something done about it."

A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive said the problem would be rectified shortly after the CT had drawn the matter to its attention: "The Housing Executive had not received any recent reports about trees at Block 24 Clarawood Park. However, in light of the new information received from the Community Telegraph an inspection was carried out on August 5 and arrangements are now being made to have the trees in questions pruned.

"We hope that this will resolve the matter to residents' satisfaction."

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