Brian Betts owns the property occupied by Trendz training college which must now look for an alternative site while the roof is fixed.
Brian Betts owns the property occupied by Trendz training college which must now look for an alternative site while the roof is fixed. TREVOR VEALE

School's out as limbs smash through CBD roofs

FOR years Brian Betts has been warning of the dangers of the large gum trees on the corner of Duke and Vernon streets and last weekend more limbs came down punching holes in roofs and disrupting businesses.

Mr Betts has owned the building block near the Presbyterian Church occupied by Trendz, a government subsidised training centre, and street artist Ash Johnston for 12 years. The two large mature trees on Vernon Street were left intact after others were removed to make way for the Duke Street extension through to Harbour Drive.

Now with several large holes in the roof, the Trendz beauty training centre is unable to operate and Mr Betts estimates it could be months before they're back in action.

"I rang a few roofing contractors today and it will be weeks before they can even come out and look at it,” Mr Betts said.

On Monday he was scrambling just to get tarpaulins in place to prevent further water damage.

Trendz training college is auspiced by the Mid North Coast Community College and had only recently opened up at that location, providing training for nearly 20 students.

"We spent a lot of money on our small budget refurbishing it and were planning to open the salon up to the public next week,” CEO Valerieanne Byrnes said.

Ms Byrnes is currently looking for an alternative temporary site.

Four years ago, after a similar incident, Mr Betts warned council of the dangers of these large trees.

"Several limbs came down and punctured the roof and when I got here there were three or four other large branches sticking out of the footpath like javelins and I wrote to council saying someone's going to get killed here but they said they weren't in a position to remove the trees.

"With the size of the branches and the heights they fall I'm concerned somebody is going to get killed here. Nobody wants to see old trees like this come down but large gum trees in a commercial area like this are just too dangerous,” Mr Betts said.

Coffs Harbour City Council is aware of the situation and issued the following response on Monday.

"We've only been made aware of this matter this afternoon and are currently looking into it. It will be a matter for council's insurers,” a spokesperson said.



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