Another unhappy customer from Rustlings Road

Another unhappy customer from Rustlings Road

Letter from Dr Luke Seed to StreetsAhead 13 July 2015; this is a response to their lame reply (given below) to his initial query and clearly misleading in its content.

Dear Sir, I have read the document attached to your email and I must take issue with a few points: The paragraph at the bottom of page 4/top of page 5 says “no residents asked any questions about tree removal on Rustlings Road or any roads”. My wife attended the road-show at the Florentine (she was not the only person attending the road-show), asked about tree removal and whether the tree in front of our house would be removed. The person running the road-show consulted a list (the information was not on display) and informed her that the tree had been marked for removal because (he said) it is a woodland tree – not right for an urban environment and too big for the setting. She responded that there is nothing wrong with the tree and it does not look diseased. He then said that the roots could be doing damage to the pavements. My wife said the disturbance is minimal and that it had not changed in 20 years. This, in my view, constitutes a resident raising concerns. The paragraph at the top of page 6 identifies that if Amey’s work results in heave or subsidence then the householder would be required to commission a report to identify the damage and any claim would be made against Amey. However, when a representative came to look at the trees with the householders, he specifically said that any heave/subsidence resulting from tree removal would not be Amey’s responsibility and that people should look to their home insurance. Perhaps you could correct and/or clarify the relevant text in the document, which you circulated, that, on the face of it, is erroneous in one or more places.

Dr Luke Seed

The reply: On 09/07/2015 16:29, streetsahead@sheffield.gov.uk wrote: 09/07/2015 Dear Mr Luke Seed Further to your enquiry regarding the tree felling on Rustlings Road (reference 101002019788), please find attached a document giving full details following a Full Council meeting last week. Kind regards Customer Services Tel: 0114 273 4567 http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/streetsahead

This completely avoids answering the main issues raised. Do email StreetsAhead to let them know your views. streetsahead@sheffield.gov.uk

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6 Responses to Another unhappy customer from Rustlings Road

  1. Technotronic says:

    When it comes to liability, Amey would be liable, if it wasn’t for the Council claiming that their own “expert” employees must sanction all tree work that Amey does. Cllr Fox has made it clear, publicly, on several occasions, that Amey first recommend works then the Council assess the situation themselves and either permit or prevent the works, based on their own assessments.

    Unfortunately, that means the Council is liable for any harm or damage caused as a result of their acts or omissions. They are liable for the advice their professional “experts” give. Their professionals have a duty of care, imposed on them by law, to exercise the care of a ‘reasonably skilled’ member of their particular profession. It is the same duty that applies to all professionals, including Highways inspectors, Health & Safety Inspectors and GPs.

    Therefore, if the acts or omissions of a professional are not in accordance with current best practice, and result in harm or damage, they can be sued (which is why they should have professional indemnity insurance).

    Recently, many SORT campaigners have received a “Rustlings Road Response” PDF, prepared by Ms Stephanie Roberts of and for the Streets Ahead Customer Services Fulfilment Team, during the afternoon of 8th July 2015. It was subsequently distributed to many individual SORT campaigners, directly, via e-mail. This is what it says about heave:

    “A number of enquiries have also been received regarding the potential for clay soil movement or heave. We can confirm that any instances of heave resulting from the removal of highway trees are highly unlikely given that extensive stump grinding that will take place in addition with a full footway reconstruction. Should any instances occur, for clarity the standard practice would be for householders to advise our contractor Amey of this issue through our standard customer services contacts, and typically commission a specialist report via their own home insurers. Any claim for such damage would be made against Amey and would not be paid by the Council.”

    As someone who knows, I can tell you with absolute certainty that on clay soils of high plasticity, if anything, extensive stump grinding would bring about heave much quicker than not grinding. Whoever authored the above advice needs to go back to school! Given resident’s concerns, it would be reasonable to expect a prudent Local Authority to commission soil assessments and/or refer to existing data, prior to felling. Failure to do so could be regarded as reckless and/or negligent.

    You need to know the texture of your soil and the plasticity index of the clay fraction (assuming it is a clay soil).

  2. Technotronic says:

    Luke, I’ve just realised, we were both making reference to the same document! The whole document is riddled with wrong or misleading information. It could be that it was draughted by incompetent people, or it could be that the Council and Amey just assumed the public wouldn’t know any better. Either way, if I had any ounce of faith in the Council, it has certainly been lost now.

  3. Technotronic says:

    Please note that the “Rustlings Road Response” PDF
    (prepared by Ms Stephanie Roberts of and for the Streets Ahead Customer Services Fulfilment Team, during the afternoon of 8th July 2015), which was distributed to many individual SORT campaigners on 9th July, 2015, directly, via e-mail, can be accessed online, in PDF format, at Stocksbridge Community Forum
    (as news item “Streets Ahead in Stocksbridge – trees”, in the “News” section):

    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/news/streets-ahead-stocksbridge-trees

    Quote:

    “An independent tree survey carried out in 2006/7 indicated that approximately 75% of Sheffield’s highway tree stock was reaching the end of its natural life, and only around 5% of trees fell into the “young” age grouping.

    The survey also indicated that around 10,000 highway trees required intervention and that if a programme of sustainable replacement did not commence, then a catastrophic decline in tree numbers would occur.”

    The PDF was a response to the SORT letter to David Wain Head of Highways (Steve Robinson), Head of Planning and Chief of Highway Engineer, dated 31st May, 2015. You can see a full copy at https://www.change.org/p/sheffield-city-council-streetsahead-sheffield-gov-uk-save-the-12-trees-on-rustlings-road-sheffield/u/10951593

    An edited version was also published as a letter in The Star:
    http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/letters-opinion/save-our-trees-have-your-say-1-7292659

    The only bit I think they cut out is a section that followed the words:
    “Citizens do wish to have a say in decisions to their homes and neighbourhood.”

    As follows:

    “The spirit of national policy and the Trees in Towns 2 report demand community involvement: that means education, consultation & participation, as first officially outlined in Forestry Commission Handbook 5 (“Urban Forestry Practice”, published 1989). The same guidance also appears in the Trees in Towns 2 report, commissioned by the previous Labour government (published 2008).”

    Please note that “Rustlings Road Response” PDF it is full of errors and inaccuracies and that the aforementioned survey was done by Acorn – one of the sub-contractors now felling the trees (with blue vans).
    See them at work:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-33235063

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