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Sorrento granddad billed $4000 for pruning street tree

A Sorrento grandfather was threatened with a $4000 bill by his local council after pruning a tree which he has maintained for decades, believing it was on his property.

George Holman has looked after the gum tree for 36 years and only discovered it was on a council verge after he was dobbed in two months ago when the lopper he had hired arrived to prune it.

A council ranger sent out to stop the work told him his verge didn’t start from his letterbox as he thought and the tree was on council land.

George Holman said he was shocked when he fined for destroying the tree he had looked after for decades.George Holman said he was shocked when he fined for destroying the tree he had looked after for decades.
Camera IconGeorge Holman said he was shocked when he fined for destroying the tree he had looked after for decades.Picture: Today Tonight

Mr Holman later received another surprise when the City of Joondalup fined him $350 for destroying the tree and demanded he pay the cost of removing and replacing it.

The bill added up to $3889.

“I just about fell off my chair, I couldn’t believe it,” he said.

“I haven’t got that sort of money to throw around and all I’ve been doing is looking after my tree, up until two months ago.”

Mr Holman, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, disputed the tree needed to be replaced and enlisted an independent arborist who agreed it was structurally safe and healthy.

“You’ve only got to look at the tree and you can see it’s a very healthy tree,” Mr Holman said.

The street tree at the centre of a dispute between a Sorrento grandfather and the City of Joondalup.The street tree at the centre of a dispute between a Sorrento grandfather and the City of Joondalup.
Camera IconThe street tree at the centre of a dispute between a Sorrento grandfather and the City of Joondalup.Picture: Today Tonight

“All it really needs is to be trimmed properly and it’ll end up with a beautiful healthy growth on top of it again as it has been for the last 36 years.”

After being approached by Today Tonight, the city agreed to waive Mr Holman’s infringement.

A statement released by the council said it accepted Mr Holman mistakenly thought the tree was on his property and he believed he was allowed to prune it.

Mr Holman said he would leave the council to maintain the tree in future.

“It’s a nice tree I’ve been looking after it, I want to see it maintained after I’m gone, he said.

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