Crisis meeting held over 'overgrown' vegetation work next to railwayBy Becky Barnes
January 08, 2013
Rail representatives asked disgruntled neighbours for a fresh start as they attempted to resolve long-standing issues over pruning overgrown trackside vegetation.
Neighbours called a crisis meeting after receiving letters from Network Rail saying work to cut back vegetation between Farnborough North and Wokingham would begin soon.
Families whose gardens back on to the tracks in The Brambles, Crowthorne, were left fuming after they claim Network Rail contractors chopped back ‘too much’ vegetation six years ago and are desperate to stop the same thing happening again.
Speaking at the meeting on Friday, December 21, a Network Rail spokeswoman said “let’s start again” and committed to having someone on site when pruning takes place.
Steve Abraham, of The Brambles, and neighbour Leigh Prendiville raised ‘great concerns’ as they claim they received the same letter in 2006 and were left with the area behind their gardens destroyed when contractors cut back more vegetation than promised.
Mr Abraham said: “Six years ago we were left with absolute decimation.”
He read a letter and pointed out Network Rail’s promise – “We take the concerns of our local line side residents very seriously and understand that trees and vegetation are an important and effective way for line side residents to retain their privacy from the railway. Therefore we do not carry out clearance work unless is absolutely necessary for the safety reasons mentioned.”
Neighbours wanted reassurance from Network Rail it would keep its promise and said they had lost faith after previous events.
A Network Rail spokesman told the meeting said: “We are taking out four trees along this whole stretch and we are cutting to six metres with a metre to allow it to be managed.
“I do not understand why there are certain houses affected more six years ago and I do not know why that happened and I can’t change that.”
Bracknell’s MP Dr Phillip Lee, who was also at the meeting, called for Network Rail to commit to having someone on site to oversee the contractors.
He said: “What underpins this is a lack of trust from Network Rail from before – it sounds like it has been a communication problem.
“I do not think there is that much disagreement.”
The Network Rail spokesman added: “We are here to try and talk about it and if there is a particular tree you want to argue about on the day then you can and we can make a judgement.”