The Hove couple are hoping a thorny tree will be removed

An elderly couple have reached out to their MP for help removing a berry-laden thorn tree outside their home.

Marcia Hasler, 81, had the help of Labor MP Peter Kyle as she asked councilors for action after years of worrying about the tree.

It was planted on the pavement outside her home in Chelston Avenue, Hove, seven years ago.

She is concerned it has become a health and safety hazard. It has 3 cm long thorns on its ground-level spurs and throws berries across the street and sidewalk.

Ms. Hasler fears someone will slip on the berries, some have fallen off in recent storms.

She said: “In a couple of weeks, when the berries really fall off, it will be a carpet.

“The whole tree is an issue. We’ve had quite a few berries in the rain but that’s nothing compared to what’s to come.

“I don’t know how they are getting away with this health and safety issue, even with the thorns. It just doesn’t make sense. We can’t sweep it off the sidewalk.”

Mrs Hasler has heart problems and her husband David has asthma.

She told Brighton and Hove City Council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee meeting last week that they were unable to clear the road and their front garden themselves.

Ms Hasler has asked Cityclean, the city’s garbage, recycling and street cleaning service, for someone to clean up, but street cleaners have only come sporadically.

At the meeting last Tuesday (September 20) she told councilors it was her last resort – and they learned all about the long and traumatic history of the tree planted by the council outside her home.

When Ms Hasler returned home from hospital after heart surgery, she found a letter from the community threatening legal action if the couple didn’t cut the tree back within 14 days.

The letter reads: “We have been made aware that vegetation which appears to have originated from your property is now growing over the public road and is causing problems for pedestrians, particularly those with visual impairments or mobility issues.

“As the owner or occupier of the property, you are responsible for ensuring that no trees, bushes or other vegetation you have encroach on the public roadway or cause nuisance to other road users.”

A photograph with the letter clearly showed the tree planted at the edge of the sidewalk.

The council later apologized for the letter and admitted responsibility for the tree.

After hearing her story, the Hove MP helped Mrs Hasler put her question to the councillors.

Mr Kyle said: “This is another example of how we lack common sense administration in the Council.

“Ms. Hasler has encountered wall after wall in her attempts to solve a problem affecting the sidewalk, the street and the neighbors.

“I saw the ears of corn and berries myself. No one would want that outside of their home, but no one on the council is trying to correct the mistake.

“I am asking someone in the administration of the council to take responsibility and help Ms. Hasler.”

Green Councilwoman Amy Heley, co-chair of the city council’s Environment, Transportation and Sustainability Committee, said she regretted hearing about the issue and would ask the city council’s tree team to be in touch.

The council said: “We are contacting the resident to highlight the issues with trees dropping berries, seeds, leaves, honeydew, etc. onto footpaths.

“By using this natural process, we are not cutting down healthy street trees. If we were to remove healthy trees that are shedding berries, etc., we would have to start a large-scale city-wide felling and replacement program, at both a huge cost to the municipal taxpayer and significant environmental damage.

“The tree in question and one next to it were pruned back on Friday (September 23) to remove any prickly growth obstructing the footpath.

“Any issue with debris on sidewalks that may pose a hazard should be reported to our colleagues at Cityclean so they can take action.” The Hove couple are hoping a thorny tree will be removed

Fry Electronics Team

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