How Sheffield tree campaigners were vindicated – Yorkshire Post Letters

From: D Long, arboriculturist and urban forester, Sheffield.

The Sheffield tree felling scandal continues to prompt much debate and discussion.
The Sheffield tree felling scandal continues to prompt much debate and discussion.

SO, why did Sheffield City Council (SCC) and Amey really change their plans for the city-wide mass felling of mature street trees (The Yorkshire Post, July 29)? I’ll explain.

In early 2018, following a series of inadequate responses from SCC to requests submitted under the Freedom of Information Act, the Information Commissioner threatened to take legal action against SCC if did not make public previously redacted sections of the contract for the £2.2bn Streets Ahead highway maintenance project.

In early March 2018, SCC shared parts of the contract that it had previously kept hidden and misrepresented. Contractual felling quotas were revealed, including a target for a total of 17,500 street trees to be felled.

Tree campaigners Calvin Payne (left) and Simon Crump have jointly written a book about the Sheffield tree debacle and their role as frontline protesters. They have spoken to around 100 other people involved in the campaign to tell the story of how it unfolded.

On July 18, 2019, the Forestry Commission (FC) published a report on the SCC Street tree debacle and here are a few quotes from the FC report:

“The terms of the contract between SCC and Amey was made public in early 2018. It was at this point that the commitment to fell 200 trees per annum was revealed.

“This commitment left open the possibility that those trees were not felled in response to a statutory duty, but as a result of a contractual agreement and SCC policy decision. As such, there was a credible possibility that a felling licence may have been required.

“The FC therefore took the decision to undertake an alleged illegal felling assessment of the Streets Ahead programme.

“The assessment was formally started on April 19, 2018 with correspondence to both SCC and Amey.

“That correspondence included a request to suspend all tree felling of street trees in Sheffield that SCC was responsible for until further notice excepting the need to fell trees which pose an immediate danger to the public.”

From: Dave Ellis, Magdalen Lane, Hedon.

I LOOK forward to reading Persons Unknown: The Battle for Sheffield’s Street Trees by Calvin Payne and Simon Crump when it is published later this year (The Yorkshire Post, July 29).

The Sheffield tree scandal is a prime example of how officialdom got it completely wrong, and at great cost to council tax payers.

Residents should now be asking how many more wrong decisions were made to the detriment of Sheffield’s residents under former leader Julie Dore during this period of her tenureship of the council.

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