SAD FALL: The tree (seen from the roadway) toppled in January, causing considerable damage to Show Society property. It has been the centre of a dispute over who will pay up.
SAD FALL: The tree (seen from the roadway) toppled in January, causing considerable damage to Show Society property. It has been the centre of a dispute over who will pay up. TRISH WILSON

Council wipes its hands of show building repair bill

THEY thought they were unlucky enough when a tree they didn't own crashed through their roof.

But the Gladstone Show Society is gobsmacked it has now been stuck with the $30,000 repair bill as well.

It's led to terse words with Gladstone Regional Council and a warning to anyone who has council trees bordering their property - could you be hit in the pocket too?

The council-owned tree on Scenery St crashed into the building during a storm in January.

It has taken four months for the show society to be told they will need to wear the repair cost, including replacing electricity mains.

And that message was delivered impersonally via a letter from the council's insurance company - LGM - stating, "we do not believe there is any evidence to suggest that our client, the Gladstone Regional Council had been negligent.

"Council confirm that they were not on notice of any issue in relation to the subject tree."

The letter continued: "Further we fail to see what council could have done to prevent this incident from occurring (beyond removing the tree which we do not consider a reasonable response to the risk.)"

But the show society says it asked for the tree to be removed some time ago.

Society president Noel Reddacliff said he was surprised and disappointed with the verdict.

He thought his concerns had been made clear two years ago after the council came to remove another tree which destroyed the roof of a different building.

"We asked them then to remove it," Mr Reddacliff said.

"Because of the close proximity to the pavilion, we could visualise what was going to happen.

"I told them it was a hazard to have the tree so close to the building and we asked them to remove it, but they said no, it's sound".

The letter from LGM states the council inspected the tree on June 26 and found it "structurally sound and in good health".

"They cut some dead branches off," Mr Reddacliff said. "But the dead branches wasn't the problem we were worried about.

"The council wants to put the onus on someone else and make them pay."

The show society does not have the money to replace the roof.

And while Mr Reddacliff was disappointed, he said the show would go on.

"We will just do what we can to make it look acceptable," he said.

"We need the electrics working again before the show - but we will work it out."

Councillors were unavailable to provide The Observer with a comment because they were in a meeting all day.



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