Save Our Figs abandon legal battle over Laman Street

The legal battle against Newcastle City Council over the Laman Street figs has been abandoned by Save Our Figs, paving the way for the removal of the trees.

In a statement issued this afternoon, Newcastle City Council general manager Phil Pearce said it was at Save Our Figs’ request that the Land and Environment Court proceedings be terminated, putting an end to hearings set down for Monday and Tuesday.

‘‘Council consented to this termination and the Court has now ordered that the injunction to halt the removal of the trees be dissolved, the matter be dismissed and each party pay their own legal costs,’’ he said.

Read Ben Smee's report from last night's council meeting and Caity Rashke's response to allegations of assault here.

Save Our Figs solicitor Catherine Henry confirmed that there were now no grounds to proceed with the legal proceedings, which were designed to ensure the council and the general manager gave proper consideration to the State Government’s offer of an independent arborist’s assessment of the figs.

‘‘Our case has essentially gone away,’’ Ms Henry said.

‘‘Now, as they have considered and rejected the premier’s invitation, the proceedings have by consent been dissolved his morning.’’

Save Our Figs was now considering its options, she said.

For more pictures from last night's council meeting, click on the image above.

Councillor Michael Osborne indicated on Thursday night that he would be lodging a rescission motion which would bring the mater back to the council for another debate.

Councillor Mike King, who has voted for the removal of the figs, said 90 days have lapsed since a rescission motion was lodged in relation to the council’s July 17 decision to remove the trees.

‘‘That has lapsed, so they can bring another one,’’ Cr King said.

Mr Pearce said he was disappointed in the behaviour of some people who gathered at City Hall on Thursday night when the council voted against a motion requesting the state government to carry out another assessment on the fig trees.

‘‘I have on numerous occasions implored all parties to remain calm and behave in a respectful manner toward each other,’’ he said.

‘‘I have also stated that in all Council activities safety is my number one priority...

‘‘While I understand not everyone is happy with last night’s decision, the actions of some people at the conclusion of the meeting contributed to the endangerment of the personal safety of all present.

Harassment of Councillors and Council officers who are carrying out their duties is simply not acceptable.’’

Mr Pearce said he hoped any continued protest at Civic Park was conducted in a ‘‘respectful manner’’ and called on participants to be considerate and not interfere with the planned Hunter Arts Network’s annual Art Bazaar.

‘‘I acknowledge this is a complex, challenging and emotional time for the city. However, the assertion that the elected Council has not thoroughly considered this matter cannot be supported.’’

Council’s insurer Statewide Mutual has advised the council they will extend their coverage until 31 January 2012.

‘‘I again seek the community’s co-operation to achieve a peaceful and constructive resolution to this issue.’’

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