SHARE
Success . . . Gore Croquet Club members (from left) David Frame, Helen Williams, Anne Mitchell and James Telfer are very glad a petition to the Gore District Council to have the silver birch tree close to the club rooms has been successful as pollen from the tree triggered hay fever in some of the club members. PHOTO:SANDY EGGLESTON

The troublemaker at Sheldon Green, the home of the Gore Croquet Club, was removed yesterday.

At Tuesday night’s Gore District Council meeting, councillors voted in favour of removing a pollen-dropping silver birch tree which had troubled members with hay fever for many years.

Club members first presented a petition asking for the removal of the tree, which was close to the clubhouse on recreation reserve land between Ardwick and Fairfield Sts, – to Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks in October 2018.

An extensive memo including a recommendation from chief executive Steve Parry, a report from parks and reserves manager Ian Soper, a biological assessment of Sheldon Green to determine the amount of pollen in the environment, a report of the tree varieties growing at the green, receipts from a chemist for hay fever medication and letters from doctors Jochen Clemens and Glenys Weir testifying two club members were suffering from hay fever brought on by exposure to silver birch pollen were tabled at the meeting.

In his report, Mr Parry noted that Mr Soper had evaluated the issue according to the guidelines of the district’s tree policy and found there appeared to be no justification for removing the tree.

Mr Parry recommended the council decline the removal of the tree.

“Given the manager’s reticence to accede to the request of the Gore Croquet Club, the council is now invited to endorse this recommendation,” he wrote.

However, after a short discussion councillors unanimously voted to allow the removal of the tree.

Cr Bret Highsted asked what the cost of removing the tree would be.

“A couple of thousand dollars I would expect, at a minimum,” Mr Soper said.

Cr Highsted hoped that by allowing the removal of the tree the council would not be “setting Gore up for mass exodus of silver birch trees”.

Mr Parry said given it was only one tree and it was at a sports ground that should “limit the floodgates opening”.

Cr Ralph Beale said he had heard that after 15 trees were removed from Joseph St because their pollen gave people hay fever, people still had a problem.

“My concern is if we take the tree out, next year croquet members have still got hay fever [and] it will all be in vain because it wasn’t actually the tree.”

Cr Cliff Bolger asked if the tree could be transplanted but Mr Soper said it was too big.

Cr Graham Sharp said another tree could be planted in place of the silver birch.

Croquet club secretary Helen Williams said if people lived in an area such as Joseph St where there were troublesome trees, they could shift house.

“If you play croquet, this is where we play croquet – we haven’t any other options,” Mrs Williams said.

In her opinion, the area did not need another tree.

“There are rhododendrons and azaleas that are starving underneath that big tree [that] would dearly love to have a bit of bright sunshine and light,” she said.

said the group was very pleased the tree would be removed as it has been a longstanding problem.

“One member has had trouble with it for years.

“She’s been a member for 50 years.

“When she went home her eyes would be running and she’d be sneezing for the rest of the evening,” Mrs William said.

It was possible 2018 had been a bad year for hay fever.

“This is the year we have had more complaints.”

Club member Dorothy McDuff said she regularly suffered from hay fever after playing croquet at the green when the pollen was flying.

“By the time I got home from a game [my eyes] would be stinging and weeping,” Mrs McDuff said.