Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Never Give In Too Easily

Cedar tree - Council seeks to ban nursery children from playing under tree

The Cedar tree in Cambridge where council officials want to stop children playing claiming they will damage the tree roots

It’s also a highly dangerous tree. You see, it’s haunted by ghosts.

The ghosts of childhood…

Officers are applying for a permanent preservation order on the 30-year-old cedar to safeguard it from damage.

‘Crikey!’ gasped William, in astonished at the Council’s daring.

Parents have called for common sense and say that the children - aged two to four - exert too little pressure to cause any harm and will be too restricted in where they can play if they are not allowed under the tree.

‘Them little ones is the toughest,’ said PC Plod glumly. ‘Destructive as mad badgers, in their way.’

The move follows a Cambridge City Council report into the health of the tree at the Under Fives Roundabout Pre-School in Cambridge.

The report argues the tree, which covers half the playground, will suffer if the ground is "poached and compacted" by "constant activity" which could stop water reaching the roots.

That Council sounds like silly chumps,

Said Rupert glumly, in the dumps.

It recommends: "Ideally, the children would not be able to play beneath the tree."

‘Ideally,’ said the Child Catcher ‘They’d be locked in my dungeon.’

Poached ground is commonly caused by cattle cutting up grassland with their hooves near gates and feeding points, exposing the soil leaving it open to erosion.

The council served a tree preservation order on the school on June 9, 2008.

Poached ground served with tree preserves,’ Julian excitedly.

‘With lashings of ginger beer, one jolly well hopes!’ came Anne’s reply.

A planning committee meeting will be held tomorrow (Wed) to hear objections and decide whether to confirm or reject the order.

The pre-school moved to its current site on the grounds of a primary school in September. Previously the tree was outside school grounds by a public footpath.

‘Must have wandered off, all hasty-like,’ mumbled Treebeard. ‘Errant scamps, they Cedars.’

Eileen Hori, chairman of the nursery's management committee and parent, said the tree is now better protected than ever.

"Before the tree had branches broken off and was played under and climbed on by children and adults," she said. "People littered on it, dogs and cats went to the toilet on it and tramps slept under it - and yet the tree still thrived.

"The tree is beautiful and a great asset to the school. We are taking care to protect it whilst enjoying it."

‘That’s because we love that tree, don’t we, children?’ asked Tinkerbell, tinkling.

Mrs Hori said the pre-school has a maximum of 34 pupils with no more than 12 playing outside at anyone time.

She added: "It's utterly ridiculous to restrict the kids like this. They will have a tiny amount of space to play in."

‘They can play in our house,’ piped Arrietty Clock, generously.

As a compromise the pre-school wants to sow the ground under the tree with flowers and use it as a quiet area where children can listen to stories.

‘Just so, perhaps?’ asked Baloo.

David Hargreaves, vice-chairman of the pre-school's management committee, said it is happy to protect the tree but does not want "harsh restrictions" on action.

He added: "It's deeply frustrating. We don't think two and three year olds are going to exert too much pressure. We just want the children to be able to enjoy the tree."

‘The poor man can’t make up his mind. Are the little children good or wicked?’ asked the Blue Fairy.

The council's principal arboricultural officer Diana Oviatt-Ham…

…‘That’s a Death-Eater name if ever I heard one,’ said Ron, chewing on a slice of bacon…

…said the children could compact the earth and starve the roots of water.

"They were advised right from the start when they were interested in the site that there were going to be constraints on the use of the tree," she said.

She said that if the order is upheld council planning officers will work with the school to agree on exact restrictions.

Mrs Oviatt-Ham added: "If the order is upheld we hope we will be able to reach a satisfactory compromise as to how the area is used."

And if not, we’ll be carving runes on our own hands, I expect,’ added Harry.

The council report also warns the tree might need to be trimmed if children are allowed to play underneath.

‘How shall the little children play under the tree?’ mused the White Rabbit to the Dormouse. ‘Shall they run down my burrow?’

It states: "In addition, cedar trees shed spiky needles and exude resin,

…go ask Alice when she is ten feet tall…

…which could result in complaints from parents and an application to trim the tree to reduce the nuisance."

‘Not mention of the dryads, poor things,’ scowled Lucy, loyally.

David Howarth, Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge, who lives near the pre-school, said: "Children have played underneath trees for centuries without serious harm coming to either. I am sure some sensible arrangement can be reached."

Cedar trees are coniferous and closely related to Firs. They are native to the mountains of the western Himalaya and the Mediterranean region.

‘Yes, wandersome trees, as I said,’ agreed Treebeard, standing next to the Mad Hatter from the Council.

They typically grow up to between 30m to 40m. The leaves are evergreen and needle-like.

‘The timber can be made into may useful things; not least of which are the most prominent symbols on Cambridge Council’s coat of arms – two short planks.

And so the poor tree was saved from the killer children and the poor little children were saved from the big bad tree and everyone lived ever after…


Except that this is how we are now governed.

The jokers make us safe from splinters and tumbles and give us and the trees hugs (and I’m a bit of a tree hugger myself; but not on the rates) when we fall and these children are to gown up to cherish and to defend what’s left of Western civilisation once the rest of Eurasia finally discovers we’re a small, quarrelsome and disunited peninsula (a bundle of peninsulas really), on the edge of a land mass whose growing populations believe strongly in what they are and their place in the world, and see us as guilt-bag milksops.

If no adventurous toddlers are even allowed to play around a mere tree, then where are the confident, daring children to come from? When the multi-culti bed-wetters move on from exorcising Enid Blyton’s children and their intrepidity or the culturally imperialist Christian Pevensey children or impeccably middle-class Rupert and his chums from childhood, who will they copy, look up to, or follow? Muscle-bound Japanese superheroes with American accents and handy accessories upgraded every Christmas? Impeccably diverse munchkins from rainbow-hued Balamory?

Do you think if we asked Diana Oviatt-Ham, Eileen Hori and the Davids Hargreaves and Howarth what they thought of the results at Thermopylae, Tours and Vienna, would they know, and if they did, would they approve?

Likewise Chaucer, Mallory, Shakespeare, Milton. Any good come form them, what with all those sharp objects in the stories. How about Kipling, the Gawain Poet or Rupert Brooke? The Winchester Cathedral architects and Isambard Kingdom-Brunel? How do Josiah Wedgwood and his anti-slavery plates figure in their cotton-wool world?

This from here.


Thought I'd do this one before Julai or Dumb Jon did it...


JuliaM said...

Ah, the Settlers, and 'Follyfoot'!

Showing your age there.. ;)

North Northwester said...

And my usless spelling, Julai..

Anonymous said...

Unfortunate lack of Arthur Ransome references, unless I'm mistaken.

Clearly, young man (as one of my schoolmasters once said to me), your education is incomplete.

On the subject of the post itself, I have nothing to add. How could one? It is a perfect parable of our times.

North Northwester said...

Welcome Anonymous, and thank you for your kind comments.

Yes, I missed Swallows and Amazons as a child, though Rosemary Sutcliffe and others got through the tide of comic books and science fiction that were beginning in the 1970s.

Thank you very much for your flattering comments and I hope to write something else amusing and germane one day...If so, I hope that you see it.


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