SAVE OUR FIGS
31 July 2011
Save Our Figs today welcomed the news that the former High Court judge, the Honourable Michael McHugh, would be willing and available to mediate the conflict over the Laman Street trees.
“We hope Newcastle Council jumps at this opportunity for this matter to be resolved by mediation from such a pre-eminent citizen, because it offers exactly the kind of high-level independent intervention that might break through the current impasse,” Save Our Figs spokesperson Fee Mozeley said.
“Save Our Figs would be prepared to engage in any such mediation, and we’re also prepared to put up a significant amount of money – raised from the local community – to help fund this process,” Ms Mozeley said.
Newcastle councillors will vote again on Tuesday night on the proposal by council staff to remove all fourteen of the giant Hill’s figs in Laman St between Darby St and Dawson St.
Save Our Figs have already supported mediation as a way of resolving the conflict over the validity of the council’s risk assessments, before the council sends in the chainsaws.
Supporters of the Laman Street trees heard about the possibility of mediation by the former High Court judge at a picnic in Civic Park to celebrate National Tree Day today.
The information about former Justice McHugh’s availability came from a prominent member of the Newcastle legal profession who has been talking to former Justice McHugh’s office.
Ms Mozeley said that they were hoping that this new breakthrough might be enough to convince the majority of councillors that there was a chance to have another look at the Laman Street matter before “settling” it with chainsaws.
“These trees are obviously treasured by the local community, and so much doubt has been raised by so many independent experts about the alleged need to remove them that the council should be doing everything in its power to find a way through this conflict,” Ms Mozeley said.
“The trees are now barricaded up in a total exclusion zone, so not even the most fanatical scare-monger could argue that they present any significant risk at the moment. Let’s seize what could be the last opportunity for a logical, evidence-based and negotiated solution to this issue,” Mr Mozeley said.