Our say | A win for the elms and a win for the people

IT is nice to know that people power can still win.

Roads and Maritime Services’ decision to redesign its upgrade of the Vale Road at Perthtville is a welcome victory for residents in the village.

Initial plans would have spelled the end of some of the trees in the famous avenue of elms that lines the road into the village and creates a spectacular canopy, particularly in autumn.

A letter from the RMS to the village’s neighbourhood group said the changes were needed to create a smoother, wider road to improve safety and reduce maintenance.

“The road is rough and narrow with several trees close to the road presenting a hazard to road users, with two crashes reported along the road in the past five years,” a spokeswoman told the Western Advocate.

“As part of this project, Roads and Maritime proposes removing a number of trees, including the elm trees which form a tunnel effect on approach to Perthville.”

On Wednesday, though, the RMS issued a new statement, this time saying it had heeded the concerns of residents.

The new statement said RMS had “redesigned the plans for the road work to avoid significant impacts to the avenue of trees and to businesses in Perthville”.

“We will continue to work with the community and stakeholders on this project and will be seeking feedback on the design as part of the Review of Environmental Factors for the project later in the year,” the statement said.

And that means we will certainly end up with a better solution than knocking down a local landmark.

Of course road safety must be a priority, but there is also a need for government agencies to explore all options before taking a decision.

It would appear that did not happen in this case but we should applaud the RMS for admitting its mistake.

The easy option would have been to press forward with the initial plans and wear some flak for a few months, with the expectation that the fuss would be forgotten within months of the new work opening.

But to go back to the drawing board and to change tack now is a mark of respect for the Perthville community and an acknowledgment of the value of the trees to that community.

Now, hopefully, all stakeholders can move forward together – and the avenue of elms can go on delighting us for many more years.