Five damning findings from the Sheffield trees inquiry - what you need to know

Sir Mark Lowcock has produced a 100,000 word report setting out the multiple failings that led to the Sheffield tree-felling scandal unfolding. Here are the key takeaways...
  1. There was a target to cut down 17,500 trees – half the city’s street trees – and replace them with saplings as part of highways improvement work. This has previously been denied for years by the council but has now been accepted.
  2. That target was placed in the Streets Ahead contract due to a major mistake – a consultant’s report saying 75 per cent of the city’s street trees were mature or over mature was misinterpreted as meaning they were “ready for replacement”. In fact, only 1,000 needed immediate replacement. Previous council leader Paul Scriven has apologised for his part in the debacle.
  3. Sheffield Council twice misled high court judges – as well as the wider public – about the issue. They published a strategy document referred to in court that claimed 25 alternative solutions would be considered before a tree was removed – but in reality the solutions weren’t part of the contractual agreement and many of them were unworkable in any case.
  4. At the height of the dispute, Sheffield Council bosses considered poisoning healthy trees in a desperate attempt to ‘defeat’ the protesters.
  5. Despite the damning findings, no current councillor or officer is expected to face any formal consequences over what happened. Council leader Terry Fox says he won’t resign and has rejected a resignation offer from Labour colleague Bryan Lodge, while chief executive Kate Josephs says no disciplinary action is planned against any existing employee – partly because many of those responsible for policy decisions at the time have already left.
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