Sheffield trees scandal now demands a public inquiry – The Yorkshire Post says

THE current Covid crisis offers no excuse for Sheffield City Council ignoring further scrutiny over one of the most serious abuses of power in local government history.

Sheffield Council has this week been censured for its mishandling of the city's tree-felling scandal.
Sheffield Council has this week been censured for its mishandling of the city's tree-felling scandal.

Public trust demands that the council submits itself to a full independent inquiry into the city’s tree-felling scandal almost four years to the day after upstanding and law-abiding residents were treated like criminals – and the application of the law brought into disrepute – for standing up for the environment in Britain’s so-called ‘outdoor city’.

It comes after the stance of campaigners, and The Yorkshire Post, was vindicated when a damning Ombudsman’s report this week confirmed what we knew all along – namely the council misled the people it purports to represent on multiple occasions over its controversial £2bn highways contract.

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In a devastating rebuke, the Labour-led authority was told to apologise to the people of Sheffield for its actions, which it has done, and now has three months to explain how it will make amends. But the public interest demands that the council orders an inquiry – they could even ask a body of the stature of the National Audit Office or Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee – to examine the roots of what appears to have been a rotten decision-making culture and motivation behind claims, like the felling of healthy trees as a “last resort”, which were so patently false.

Sheffield City Council leader Julie Dore has presided over the trees scandal.

Apologies alone won’t suffice. Even though chief executive John Mothersole has retired, and Julie Dore, the council leader, will step down next May, they have a civic obligation to explain their actions, release all documentation for examination and prove the robustness of new protocols so key lessons can be learned by all local authorities. Only then, and not before, will Sheffield Council be in a position to turn over a proverbial new leaf in its relationship with its people – one which must be built on trust.

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This heavy-handedmess came to characterise Sheffield's tree-felling scandal.

Thank you

James Mitchinson