AN independent panel has been set by Sheffield City Council to try and defuse a row over the cutting down of trees in the city.
The panel will be asked to consider whether proposals to cut down trees are appropriate if more than half of residents on a given street raise concerns.
The council has faced criticism over the cutting down of trees as part of a city-wide programme of improvements to roads.
Coun Terry Fox, the council's cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “People are rightly passionate about trees across the city and we recognise this. We only ever recommend taking out dead, dying, dangerous, diseased or damaging and obstructing trees.
The independent panel will provide impartial advice to the Council having taken account of all the evidence, including the views of local residents, which I hope will reassure people. The council will listen carefully to the advice of the panel before making any final decision. We are prepared for them to tell us that we might need to think again."
The panel will be chaired by Andy Buck, the chief executive of Sheffield Citizens Advice, and one of its first tasks will be to look at the plan to cut down trees in Rustlings Road which has sparked vocal opposition.
Coun Penny Baker, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Sheffield City Council, said ‘We welcome this news and think it is great that the council are finally willing to include local people and experts in these decisions after the pointless talking shop that was the tree forum."
She added: "We hope the council will listen to the panel’s recommendations and that this is not just another tokenistic gesture.’