Sharp reply on figs cut

NEWCASTLE City Council says work to remove the Laman Street figs "will recommence soon", but won't comment on specific plans after taking out a full-page advertisement in yesterday's Newcastle Herald.

While the council won't release details about the latest version of "Operation Beanstalk", the advertisement gives the clearest indication yet that chainsaws are being readied.

Protests by fig supporters, similar to the scenes on October 7 last year when work began briefly, are expected.

The open letter from council general manager Phil Pearce urges demonstrators to conduct themselves in a "respectful and lawful manner".

"I acknowledge that not everyone is happy with this outcome," Mr Pearce wrote.

"However, I am seeking the community's understanding in this matter and ask people to recognise that the individuals involved in the removal of the trees are doing their jobs."

Fig supporters took to a Facebook page yesterday to complain about the advertisement.

"Phil Pearce if you feel that your actions in this matter are completely justified, why did you feel the need to waste more rate payers money to justify yours and the councillors (sic) actions?" Cindy Smallman wrote.

The council said yesterday it was "good practice to communicate its activities and decisions with the community" and the advertisement was considered the best and most cost-effective way to reach a broad audience.

"Most importantly, as work on removal of the trees is to commence soon, the general manager wanted to make a genuine plea to potential protesters asking that they demonstrate in a respectful and lawful manner so that the safety of contractors, council officers and community members is not put at risk," a spokeswoman said.

Lord mayor John Tate called this week for the felling of the figs to be halted until after the September local government elections.

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