‘PEOPLE will die if nothing is done soon’.
That was the frustrated message from Fareham residents in Beaumont Close angry no action has been taken over large overhanging trees they believe will collapse onto nearby properties, including their own, at some point.
A dispute over ownership of land has put a halt to resolving an issue neighbours say has been badly handled as different organisations continue to pass the buck.
Residents told The News they have documents proving the trees belong to Buckingham Court – an elderly residential block that was built after the previous landowners sold the land 26 years ago.
Locals said a fence was ‘conveniently’ put up that suddenly zigzigs at the back of Buckingham Court so it appears the trees are not on their land and are, therefore, supposedly the property of Hampshire Highways.
But with a 10 foot branch already menacingly hanging by a thread, residents said it is only a matter of time before someone gets hurt – or worse.
Steve O’Dwyer, who owns a garage to the back of his house where the trees overhang, said: ‘The trees won’t last much longer. If they fall back which is most likely then people will die. There’s an elderly residential apartment block there now and it will fall right on them. They won’t stand a chance.
‘If the trees fall forward they might still hit our houses because they are so big. At the least they will fall into the back gardens and destroy people’s conservatories.
‘Buckingham Court say it belongs to Hampshire Highways and vice versa. I have historical documents showing it belongs to Buckingham Court, though. It’s annoying everyone keeps passing the buck.’
Worryingly, cracks along the garage floor can be seen where tree roots are pushing through. Wonky garage roofs where the ground has become uneven can also be seen.
Another resident, Kevin Turner, said: ‘There are some big cracks that have started appearing. We just want this to be sorted out before people are hurt. We do not want compensation.
‘Buckingham Court put up a fence that went around the trees so it looks like they are not on their land. The fence runs straight all the way until it gets to the trees and then goes around them.
‘Hampshire Highways were going to come over an cut down the trees and then invoice Buckingham Court but they have now put things on hold and will not respond to our messages.’
Gary Swatton, whose house and back garden are in the line of fire if the trees fall forward, added: ‘It’s all about money. No one wants to pay to cut the trees down. The trees were tiny when the apartments were built but it is a real problem now.
‘The trees could come down any time. One large branch is hanging by a thread – if it fell on someone’s head it would kill them.’
Councillor Rob Humby, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for environment and transport, said: ‘Hampshire County Council have a responsibility for cutting back trees within the public highway.
‘Landowners are responsible for trees and vegetation on their land which overhang the public highway and we ask them to trim this back if it is impacting on the safety of people on the footways and highways.
‘In this case, the land upon which the tree sits, is not recorded as publicly maintainable highway. Nonetheless, we are looking into the boundary to establish ownership of the land and the tree in question to try and resolve this issue.