I am a huge fan of trees. In the summer they provide shade while, during autumn they carpet the ground with sweet smelling leaves through which one can crunch while out for a stroll. However I do not appreciate it when trees jump out and attack me for no reason! In fact it is not the fault of the trees, rather it is the responsibility of the people who fail to trim back the branches when their trees overhang the pavement. Last Saturday I received a tree branch, full in the face as I walked along, near my home using my long white cane (I.E. the cane used by blind people as a mobility aid). Canes and guide dogs can prevent visually impaired people from colliding with obstacles such as lamp posts and trees. However a cane and (often) a guide dog can not detect obstacles which are above the line of vision of the dog. Consequently even had I been using my guide dog (sadly not possible as she died last week) I would, almost certainly still have been injured by that tree branch.
Last Saturday’s incident is not an isolated one. Indeed I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve come violently into contact with overhanging trees.
Under the Highways Act of 1980 landowners are responsible for ensuring that their trees and hedges do not pose a risk to members of the public. If they fail to discharge this duty local authorities can write requesting that they comply with the Act. In the event that no action is taken to cut back the trees/hedges the council may undertake the work itself and recover the costs from the landowner.
The law is (as is often said) a blunt instrument and I hope that people who read this will ensure that their own trees and those of families and friends are properly tended in order that recourse to the law can be avoided. Very few (if any) people take pleasure in the prospect of injuring others. However by failing to cut back tree branches this is what people are in fact doing (injuring others). So please, please do cut back your branches otherwise I’ll continue to be subjected to periodic injuries from overhanging branches.
For details of the law please visit http://www.dorsetforyou.com/388786