More Tree Troubles

More Tree Troubles

I wonder what George Washington’s excuse was – perhaps the Cherry Tree was causing structural damage! Did George plant a replacement? Does anybody know? If so, do tell!!


Sheffield Star led this Saturday with a headline about trees in Greenhill – so not good news if you live around there!

Star headline  29 August 2015

Star headline  29 August 2015 2

Star headline  29 August 2015 3

Firstly, below is the latest correspondence between campaigners and the City Council.

Dear ALL

Here is an exchange of emails between Julie Dore and a Sheffield resident. Notice how she spends considerable mention to her views on Lib Dems and then goes on to slander the SORT campaigners’ behaviour toward people with disabilities. Just how and where she has come up with the latter views would be interesting to find out.

Kind regards,

David Garlovsky

Begin forwarded message:

This is the reply from Councillor Julie Dore (Labour Group/Sheffield City Council leader) to the email from June Elm.

First, the original email from June Elm:

“Here is a copy of an email that I have just sent to my local councillors – Julie Dore (Head of the council no less), Mike Drabble and Jack Scott. I will let you know their responses.

Dear Councillors,

It was with great sadness that at the Full Council Meeting held on 1 July 2015, all labour councillors block voted against a request for a two-month moratorium on the felling of trees in Sheffield so there could be an independent review of the city wide policy on the future of our trees.

I can’t believe that a Labour council would back the wanton destruction being inflicted on the trees of Sheffield by your contractors, Amey. At the end of the day the council has to authorise the felling of these trees, so the buck stops with you. How can you ignore the requests from the people of Sheffield?

I have been a lifelong Labour supporter especially at grass roots level, but I for one will NOT be voting for Labour in next year’s elections. I know that I am not alone in this.
And also, JACK SCOTT, I am now firmly of the opinion that Amey were behind the illegal felling of trees on Myrtle Road earlier this year. I notice that your support for finding out who had done this dwindled when my freedom of information request was returned vindicating Sheffield City Council. Irrespective of whoever authorised the felling of these trees, an illegal act has been carried out. Why haven’t you followed this up in order to bring the culprits to book?

PLEASE halt this destruction until an independent review can be carried out. What are you afraid of? If the trees need to come down an independent review would support you in your quest. Or are you worried that it will be found to be purely a cost cutting exercise to increase the profits of Amey.

How can you sit back and watch us lose the accolade of one Europe’s greenest cities?”


June Elm.

Julie Dore reply:

It is quite simple really, the trees are dangerous to pedestrians, especially for those with sight impairments, for those with mobility/disabilities and for those with prams and buggies. The trees that have been identified for removal, as not all trees are to be removed, are damaging the pavements, and in some cases the road. Where trees are not affecting the pavements/roads they are to remain, as we all agree that it is important to keep as many trees as possible. We have clearly put our case forward publicly and in fact the Cabinet member Councillor Terry Fox has met with many members of the public and the campaign group.

Local Councillors are given prior notice of the ‘Streets Ahead’ work in their wards. We also follow, as we have privileged and prior information, any works that is proposed by the council, or we are more than able to ask the questions on behalf of our constituents, knowing exactly what the ‘Streets Ahead’ programme entails (of course it includes removing dangerous, damaged or diseased trees) and Local Councillors are made fully aware of where these trees are, or where they are likely to be. Unfortunately the local Councillors (Lib Dems) representing Rustlings Road, only engaged with the ‘Streets Ahead’ issues once the objections were raised by their residents, instead of keeping on top of these proposals within their ward and, identifying this issue on their behalf. They then subsequently stirred up opposition at a later stage. Therefore I believe they failed in their duty to represent their constituents on what they should have realised was an important issue for them. I would also add that I’m aware that local politicians in this constituency have asked for trees to be removed elsewhere, outside of the policy, on behalf of their constituents.

I can assure that every one of the Cabinet Members take their decisions, individually and collectively, very seriously and the engagement with the public is ongoing on a daily basis, not just at the full council meeting that takes place once a month. We do take petitions into consideration, as we do with all consultative feedback, when arriving at our decisions. In fact since 2012 we have responded to petitions of this size in various ways; agreeing with the petitioners, and acting upon, referring to scrutiny-3, and standing by our decision.

Also for the Lib Dems to condemn us for, as they say in all their leaflets, “ignoring over 10,000 Sheffield People” is pure hypocrisy. When in power prior to 2011 they ‘ignored’ over 13,000 people who petitioned for a discount to the market traders to ensure the Castle Market could continue to trade until the new Moor Market opened, even though the New Moor Market was signed off by the Lib Dems prior to 2011.

For your information, regarding the consultation by this Labour Council, Councillor Terry Fox has/is engaging with the public, including residents of Rustlings Road and other interested groups, on a regular basis, including through a ‘Highways Tree Forum’, as follows:

“I’ve met with the residents and campaigners from the Rustlings Road and Wayland Road campaign. There were 40-50 people there including Green Party, Lib Dem and other political campaigners. I have also have received a letter from Nick Clegg, which was also attached to a Lib Dem Focus delivered in the area.

I was also accompanied by Councillors Tony Downing, Karen Mc Gowan and Nikki Bond, where we heard representation from the campaigners about their views on the trees and how to deal with them.

I then held a meeting with the local Lib Dem Councillors and officers, to explore any new engineering solutions, but none were/or have been forthcoming.

I have to say that the way some of the campaigners and Lib Dem Councillors behave towards people with disabilities is at best distasteful and at worst discriminatory. They have complete lack of compassion and their lack of feeling of inclusivity for citizens to travel on our footpaths.

Because the campaign group are now developing tactics for individual trees, and we have over 2 million trees around the city including the 36,000 highway trees, I have set up a ‘Highways Tree Forum’ so we can have strategic conversations with representative bodies, also allowing residents to have a say in their own neighbourhoods.

The request for a moratorium in the works will have a major impact on the scheme especially with the risk to zonal works and confidence from the lenders.
The key points of the moratorium:

• This has to be by agreement with lenders – which we are extremely unlikely to get – and if we did it would take 12 months stalling the whole of the ‘Streets Ahead’ programme.
• Sign off is required from DfT and Treasury
• During this process we are legally bound to maintain payment within the contract, with costs to the council that in the current Government public spending cuts are virtually impossible to find
• We would need to obtain insurance at major cost
• The moratorium would affect all core works – footways, lighting and carriageways
• The approach to lenders, DfT and Treasury would put at risk the financing of the project

I did agree to pause the Rustlings Road and Wayland Road works to listen to residents etc. Another ‘tree campaign for Wayland Road’ has also approached us on the back of Rustlings Road, and is now requesting a pause, which I’ve granted.

We have a policy which has been adopted within the ‘Streets Ahead’ contract for trees, to ensure that we maintain a ‘Sheffield Standard’ (an attached sheet with pictures explains).

Finally, we have replaced around 2,000 Highway Trees so far and on Rustlings Road we are replanting an extra 9 trees on top of the replacement trees”

I do hope this explains our position to your satisfaction, but if you wish to raise any other concerned issues, please do so.

Kind regards.

Julie Dore

My response is this:

I have been out to several streets where notices of impending removal are currently displayed and I strongly refute what Councillor Dore/Councillor Terry Fox and Amey and their experts are saying!

I will leave you all to make your own minds up!

I am inviting Julie Dore, Terry Fox, Amey arborists, and Streets Ahead staff to come out with me and walk these streets to see for themselves and make the case to me in person!
I’m no Mystic Meg but I feel sure I can predict the response!

I will conclude this post with a quote from Dr Mark Johnston who is one the world’s leading consultants in arboriculture.

“Evidence from Trees in Towns II and other sources indicates a trend towards the removal of large-growing trees and their replacement with small-growing ornamental types. Significantly fewer large-growing trees are planted. This trend has prompted fears it will lead to a proliferation of ‘lollipop landscapes’. It is the larger forest-type trees that have significantly
greater benefits, and this trend could have a particularly damaging impact on the climate-proofing of our cities.”

Secondly, there is a message from Marg Blas with a link to a petition to save Dore Village trees:


I just signed the petition, “Sheffield City Council, Save Dore Trees.”

I think this is important. Will you sign it too?

Here’s the link:




Many thanks.

Of course, when asked how many people have reported either tripping over a tree root in a Sheffield pavement, or indeed, stumbling into a street tree……the answer was indeed, as Julie Dore says, ‘quite simple’  …….. none!!!



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18 Responses to More Tree Troubles

  1. Technotronic says:


    What evidence is there that this letter from Cllr Dore is real?

    I’d be very careful in believing ANY of this. The citizen that is claimed to have submitted a letter of complaint to Dore claims to be a lifelong Labour supporter, and it has come to my attention that she is the former partner of a leading campaigner. If this is true, she is ideally placed to act for Dore as a spy and spread misinformation and sow discontent. Furthermore, the motive is there to do so.

    The Council clearly don’t wish to have any meaningful communication with campaigners, but a person such as Ms Elm (fictional or not) serves as an ideal means of the Council remaining at arms-length & planting or discovering information/misinformation.

    Until these communications can be verified as legitimate, WITH EVIDENCE, I strongly advise ALL campaigners to IGNORE them. If Cllrs Dore or Fox have anything to say, they have ample opportunity to publicly address all citizens. Furthermore, the comments attributed to Dore are so ridiculous that it is very difficult to believe they have come from the leader of our city Council.


    Please also note that, as SORT campaigners correctly pointed out, trees causing pavement disturbance can be safely retained for the long term, and all that the Health and Safety at Work Act, the Occupiers Liability Act, the Equalities Act, and the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) require is that you do that which is reasonable. The DDA even includes the words ” IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE”. In the context of these Acts, the word “reasonable” is not a word with vague meaning, open to misinterpretation (although both Cllr Fox and the Streets Ahead team have managed to misinterpreted it).

    The law applies tests of reasonableness. What is required by the aforementioned Acts are balanced assessments by competent people using current, widely recognised and accepted, appropriate, adequate methods, to ensure that the Council:

    “take REASONABLE care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour”.

    For legal purposes, the word neighbour means persons closely and reasonably likely to be directly affected by your ACTS OR OMISSIONS: see Donoghue v. Stevenson [1932] A.C. 562, H.L., per Lord Atkin at p. 580.

    The duty is to do that which is required to ensure that your neighbour is reasonably safe (Phillis v. Daley (1988) 15 N.S.L.R. 65; Unger v City of Ottawa (1989) D.L.R. (4th) 98.). The extent or level of care reasonable IS dependent on ALL the circumstances of the case. In the event that something goes wrong, resulting in harm or damage, if the Council cannot demonstrate that they have taken reasonable care, for example, by acting in accordance with current best practice, they are likely to be liable for negligence. By the way, the Council’s 6Ds “policy”/”framework” includes the categories “dying” and “discriminatory”. These categories are unnecessary. You will note that neither word appears within the Highways Act.

    It would be appropriate, and in keeping with current best practice, for the Council to adopt and implement systems and protocols to ensure that policy and management decisions are:

    (House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs (2006). Government policy on the
    management of risk, Vol. 1 para 34.)

    This above quote also appears in The National Tree Safety Group Guidance: group members include the Arboricultural Association, the Institute of Chartered Foresters and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and B/213 trees Committee of the British Standards institution, amongst others.

    In short, the Council should adopt a consistent and transparent strategic approach to assessment:

    By competent, I mean assessors should have appropriate and adequate education, knowledge, training and experience relevant to the matters being approached.



    “Updated report from SORT – Letter to Sheffield City Council on Street Trees”:

    When you follow the link, you will also see Cllr Fox’s response to the letter, posted on the blog. Believe it or not, that is the most detailed response I have ever seen from him (not that that means it is adequate).

    • Technotronic says:


      • The response to a freedom of information request reference – FOI / 423
      (“Under the FOI act, I request a copy of the risk assessment for the trees that are proposed to be felled on Rustlings Road please”) stated:

      “We do not carry out a risk assessment as part of our review of trees.”

      • The Council have REFUSED to provide the information requested by freedom of information request reference FOI / 575:

      “Please provide a copy of the method/s used for cost:benefit analyses when assessing whether or not it is expedient to use engineering specifications to retain long-established trees or whether it is more appropriate to fell them.”

      • The response to a freedom of information request reference – FOI / 493 revealed that there are no assessment criteria used for assessment to inform decisions as to whether or not trees that cause pavement ridging should be felled or retained and that no such assessments are done.

      • The Council have REFUSED to provide the information requested by freedom of information request reference FOI / 563:

      “Please provide [a] full, complete copy and full detail of the assessment method, principles and criteria used to assess the severity, likelihood and associated risks of obstruction to access and mobility on pavements, particularly with regard to surface disturbance associated with tree roots.”

      • The Council have REFUSED to provide the information requested by freedom of information request reference – FOI / 576:

      “Please provide a copy of the detailed criteria and method/s used to assess whether the number and nature of incidents of slips, trips, falls, injuries and deaths on any pavement in Sheffield has reached a threshold beyond which leaving a pavement in its current condition is considered likely to represent an unacceptable level risk of serious harm to users.”

      • The Council have REFUSED to provide the information requested by freedom of information request reference– FOI / 566:

      “What steps does the Council take to ensure that they undertake adequate risk assessment of the potential severity and likelihood of heave as a result of tree felling, or subsidence as a result of tree planting, so as to demonstrate that their professionals have acted as reasonably skilled professionals, in compliance with their duty of care?”

      • The Council have REFUSED to provide the information requested by freedom of information request reference FOI / 614:

      “Please provide a copy of each of the range of specifications used by Amey for highway ground preparation for the planting of street trees in Sheffield.”

      • The Council have REFUSED to provide the information requested by freedom of information request reference – FOI / 615:

      “Please provide a copy of each of the range of specifications used by Amey for the planting of street trees in Sheffield.”

      • Technotronic says:

        • The Council have REFUSED to provide the information requested by freedom of information request reference – FOI / 613:

        “Cllr Fox (current Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport & Chair of Highway Tree Advisory Forum) has made it clear that he will not comply with requests to put a stop on tree planting and on all tree felling operations that do not include works to trees that represent an immediate and reasonably foreseeable danger of serious harm or damage in the near future until a “Tree Strategy” has been commissioned, draughted in accordance with current arboricultural best practice advice, guidance and recommendations, and has been completed, adopted as Council policy, and is ready for implementation. Under the FOI Act, Please state the reasons for Cllr Fox’s refusal to comply with these reasonable requests and please provide full detail of the basis for each reason.”

  2. Technotronic says:


    There does appear to be an implication is that Amey have all responsibility & liability for financial arrangements, with regard to investor funding of the PFI contract. This may explain why Cllr Fox keeps boasting at every available opportunity that ALL liabilities have been passed to Amey.


    Reference – FOI / 478
    Submitted on Thursday 16/07/2015.

    “Under the FOI act, I request to know precisely how the PFI contract with Amey is funded, who is involved and the terms and conditions attached in each case.”

    A response was received on Friday 17th July, 2015:

    “Before we can begin to process your Freedom of Information Request, we would like to clarify what information you require.

    It is not clear what information you are requesting. Can you please clarify exactly what you wish to obtain. You may wish to review the information already made public in respect to the Amey Contract available at the sites:

    The latter including payment mechamisms for the contract. Sheffield City Council has a PFI contract to Amey Hallam Highways Ltd for the delivery of a complete highway maintenance service which includes all highway maintenance activities such as street cleaning, winter maintenance, carriageway and footway resurfacing, signal maintenance etc. Payments made by the Council under the contract do not relate to the provision of specific items of work. Instead, a single payment is made for each month of the 25 year term of the Contract. As a result, we do not have a figure for the cost of specific activities.

    The Freedom of Information act states that we must respond to a Freedom of Information request within 20 working days, however, the 20 working days do not include any time spent clarifying a request. Therefore, once we have received your clarification, we can continue processing your request within this time frame.

    You can provide your clarification by writing to the address above, emailing
    or by telephoning 0114 2734567 and asking for the Information and Knowledge Management Team.

    We look forward to hearing from you.
    Resources Business Support”

    As per the above request, clarification was provided to the FOI Information and Knowledge Management Team on Fri 17/07/2015, as follows:

    “At the meeting of full Council on 1st July 2015, Cllr Fox claimed that any delays to highways re-surfacing works – particularly to pavements – would cause investors to lose confidence and withdraw funding. I would like to know which investors are involved, their contact details, what funding they are providing, and what contractual agreements each investor has made with regard to the provision and withdrawal of goods, services and money, and with regard to contract termination, in relation to the Streets Ahead project.”

    Following the above clarification, Mark Knight – Information Management Officer provided “answers” in a communication dated 7th August 2015.

    The response was as follows:

    “Response: Lloyds Banking Group, KfW, Nord LB and SMBC. The equity providers are Amey Ventures; Aberdeen Asset Management and Equitix. The Council is unable to provide the contact details for these organisations as it is not information we hold. Similarly, the Council is not party to the funding agreements between Amey and its lenders therefore cannot release this information as it is commercially confidential.
    All other information relating to the Contract’s termination provisions are available for the public to read at Sheffield City Council – Streets ahead contract”

  3. Technotronic says:

    Please excuse all my little typographical errors. I would correct them, but there is no option to edit on this blog. Sorry for any inconvenience (I’m no typist!). 😉

  4. Technotronic says:


    FOI Requests were REFUSED UNDER PART I – Section 12 [1] and Section 14 – OF THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT (2000):




    (2)Subsection (1) does not exempt the public authority from its obligation to comply with paragraph (a) of section 1(1) unless the estimated cost of complying with that paragraph alone would exceed the appropriate limit.

    (3)In subsections (1) and (2) “the appropriate limit” means such amount as may be prescribed, and different amounts may be prescribed in relation to different cases.

    (4)The [F1Secretary of State] may by regulations provide that, in such circumstances as may be prescribed, where two or more requests for information are made to a public authority—
    (a) by one person, or
    (b) by different persons who appear to the public authority to be acting in concert or in pursuance of a campaign,
    the estimated cost of complying with any of the requests is to be taken to be the estimated total cost of complying with all of them.

    (5)The [F1Secretary of State] may by regulations make provision for the purposes of this section as to the costs to be estimated and as to the manner in which they are to be estimated.


    (1) Section 1(1) does not oblige a public authority to comply with a request for information if the request is vexatious.

    (2) Where a public authority has previously complied with a request for information which was made by any person, it is not obliged to comply with a subsequent identical or substantially similar request from that person unless a reasonable interval has elapsed between compliance with the previous request and the making of the current request.

    regulation 12(4)(b):


    12.—(1) Subject to paragraphs (2), (3) and (9), a public authority may refuse to disclose environmental information requested if—
    (a) an exception to disclosure applies under paragraphs (4) or (5); and
    (b) in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

    (2) A public authority shall apply a presumption in favour of disclosure.

    (3) To the extent that the information requested includes personal data of which the applicant is not the data subject, the personal data shall not be disclosed otherwise than in accordance with regulation 13.

    (a) it does not hold that information when an applicant’s request is received;
    (c) the request for information is formulated in too general a manner and the public authority has complied with regulation 9;
    (d) the request relates to material which is still in the course of completion, to unfinished documents or to incomplete data; or
    (e) the request involves the disclosure of internal communications.

    (5) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(a), a public authority may refuse to disclose information to the extent that its disclosure would adversely affect—
    (a) international relations, defence, national security or public safety;
    (b) the course of justice, the ability of a person to receive a fair trial or the ability of a public authority to conduct an inquiry of a criminal or disciplinary nature;
    (c) intellectual property rights;
    (d) the confidentiality of the proceedings of that or any other public authority where such confidentiality is provided by law;
    (e) the confidentiality of commercial or industrial information where such confidentiality is provided by law to protect a legitimate economic interest;
    (f) the interests of the person who provided the information where that person—
    (i) was not under, and could not have been put under, any legal obligation to supply it to that or any other public authority;
    (ii) did not supply it in circumstances such that that or any other public authority is entitled apart from these Regulations to disclose it; and
    (iii) has not consented to its disclosure; or
    (g) the protection of the environment to which the information relates.

    (6) For the purposes of paragraph (1), a public authority may respond to a request by neither confirming nor denying whether such information exists and is held by the public authority, whether or not it holds such information, if that confirmation or denial would involve the disclosure of information which would adversely affect any of the interests referred to in paragraph (5)(a) and would not be in the public interest under paragraph (1)(b).

  5. Technotronic says:


    Both Dore & Fox have claimed that there is some kind of political aspect to the current opposition to the way highway trees are being managed.

    I have been observing the SAVE OUR ROADSIDE TREES (SORT) campaign VERY closely, from the start. With any campaign that aims to change policy, it is NECESSARY to have councillors on board, as they are the ones that decide whether or not policy will be adopted and, ultimately, they hold the purse strings. There needs to be an appropriate and adequate level of resource commitment to achieve anything positive on the ground.

    To this end, I note that SORT invited ALL councillors from EVERY political party to support their campaign. Cllr Fox kept promising that there would be a “detailed debate” about highway tree management policies and practice at the meeting of full council on 1st July, 2015.

    Prior to the 1st July, a document was prepared and published (on 25th June, 2015) in support of the Save Our Rustlings Trees (SORT) campaign (as it was then known), as a HAND-OUT, IN PREPARATION FOR DEBATE at a meeting of the full Council on Wednesday 1st July, 2015. The intention of the document was to support the case for the safe, long-term retention of street trees and TO HELP ENCOURAGE INFORMED DEBATE, BASED ON EVIDENCE AND SOUND KNOWLEDGE OF CURRENT BEST PRACTICE.

    The hand-out was distributed to every Councillor on 26th June, 2015, by the Sheffield City Council (SCC) Democratic Services Legal and Governance Resources department.

    You will find a copy of it available online, via Stocksbridge Community Forum:

    The letter to Cllr Fox, dated 14th July is an amended version, which addresses some of the points he made at the meeting of full Council: when he decided to use the Equality Act & Disability Discrimination Act to justify felling; having decided to shelve the arguments he had previously been using (liability & health & safety). You can access a copy of this letter at the following link:

    Interestingly, Cllr Fox has since shelved the equality and discrimination arguments that he has been using at every available opportunity since 1st July to justify felling:
    First off, note Fox’s latest comments in reference to the trees on Rustlings Rd, reported by The Star:

    “’WE SHOULD BE CLEAR THE TREES ARE NOT BEING REMOVED DUE TO THEM BEING IN THE DISCRIMINATORY CATEGORY, but because they are damaging the road and pavement and also one of them is diseased’”

    “’I can reassure everyone trees on Rustlings Road will not be replaced until after THE SECOND FORUM MEETING TO DISCUSS OUR TREE REMOVAL STRATEGY’”

    These comments were reported in THE STAR newspaper on August 29th, 2015:

    The SORT hand-out invited ALL councillors to support the campaign and engage in informed debate, to help ensure that Sheffield’s trees – particularly the highway trees – are managed in a responsible, sustainable manner that meets the requirements of current legislation, policies and current arboricultural and urban forestry best practice.

    It just so happened that NO Labour Cllrs – NOT A SINGLE ONE – was willing to support the SORT campaign, or debate any of the points raised in SORT communications.

    ALL other political parties in Sheffield supported the SORT campaign. The cynic in me knows they only did so for their own political ends, but the pragmatist in me knows that there was no other way and that matters of governance are political by nature – I’ts just the nature of the beast!

    Amongst those that have been vocal in helping SORT and that have made sensible comments are Cllr Joe Otten (Lib Dem) & Cllr Sarah-Jayne Smalley (Green Party): the latter making the most sensible comments (although not always accurate).

    The support of Cllrs is VITAL if sound policies and plans are to be adopted as Council policy, adequately resourced and implemented!

    At NO point during the SORT campaign, which began in May, 2015, have any Labour representatives been willing to supply information requested by SORT or debate ANY of the issues raised in SORT communications.

    Furthermore, a communication, dated 31st August, has been issued by from Cllr Fox (Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport: Labour), it states:

    “The forum has been set up to allow a level of engagement with the public that is over and above the statutory meetings and consultations that we are required to do. THERE IS NO CONSTITUTION AS IT IS NOT A FORMAL DECISION MAKING BODY, it’s a consultative group designed to allow the public to attend and have their say.”

    Without a constitution, the forum is likely to be abused and misused, as it has been so far. Further detail is available via the following links:

    As an observer of developments, all I have seen from Cllr Julie Dore and her Council is a reluctance to engage in informed debate and a willingness to sow seeds of division between different groups of citizens, not least of all on the basis of socio-economic background and physical ability. I suggest our Council GROW UP and address the issues raised in the SORT hand out issued to each councillor on 26th June, 2015, by SCC Democratic Services Legal and Governance Resources department.

  6. Technotronic says:


    Sometimes, it takes a while for postings here to me moderated & become “live”. There are a few posts awaiting moderation here, but you can view them using the above link.

  7. Technotronic says:


    A very good but very brief summary of the SORT campaign appeared in the letters section of yesterday’s newspaper:

    • Technotronic says:

      The only criticism I have of this letter in The Star is that it states:

      “When it became apparent that all trees that caused even minor disruption to pavements and kerbs would be felled on the basis that they represented a trip hazard, an active campaign to challenge policy sprang in to action (SORT).”

      Actually, the SORT campaign really started when it became apparent that all trees that caused even minor disruption to pavements and kerbs would be felled on the basis that they caused damage. SORT Believed – as they still do – that engineering solutions could be used to retain trees and that alternative highway engineering specifications should be commissioned, draughted and used to safely retain existing trees, long-term (draughted by competent arboricultural consultants – preferably Chartered or approved by the Arboricultural Association – working in cooperation with competent highway engineers). It was after this that Fox & Streets Ahead started using the potential for slips trips and falls as a justification for felling.

      Thanks to FOI responses, we now know that no assessment criteria were used to assess the severity of damage (Response Ref: FOI / 493)or to assess hazard and risk of harm or injury (Response Ref: FOI / 423). The only criteria they had was the 6Ds. In reality, this is a list to aid highway tree inspectors, but it has variously been described as a “framework” (by Mr Symonds – Director of Amey, responsible for the improvement works across the city), a “strategy” (by Cllr Fox [Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport & self-appointed Chair of the Highway Trees Advisory Forum] & Cllr Dunn [Chair of Sheffield’s Green Commission – responsible for deciding a 25yr strategy for management of green infrastructure], a maintenance strategy (Streets Ahead), and a “policy” (Cllrs Fox, Dunn & Dore).

      Furthermore, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request response (Ref: FOI / 422) has indicated that neither Amey or SCC have more than one highways engineering specification for pavements and kerbs – the standard specification they use for all streets, regardless of whether trees are present or not – and that, to date, no alternative highway engineering specifications to enable tree retention have been commissioned or draughted for consideration.

  8. Technotronic says:


    I just watched the Look North broadcast from last night (2/9/2015). Scroll to the 11min 40s mark:
    The programme is only available to watch until 7pm tonight.

    What is particularly revealing (PREVIOUSLY NOT SAID) is reporter James Vincent’s claim that:
    “36,000 trees we’ve got hear in Sheffield. They’re all being assessed; 2,000 have already been removed; there are another 2,000 to be cut down THIS YEAR, so far”

    His comment starts at the 13min 39s mark.

    So, 2,000 street trees are to be felled in four months. There are then about 24 months left of the core investment period.
    28/4 = 7
    2,000 X 7 = 14,000 : The total number of street trees that could be felled between now (early September 2015) and 2018, based on felling being continued at the current rate reported by Look North.

    Under normal circumstances, this would be a ridiculous prediction. However, both the Council and Streets Ahead have consistently refused, or purposely avoided, answering questions about the NUMBER of street trees to be felled during the five year core investment period of the 25yr PFI contract and about the NUMBER to be felled during the 20yr maintenance period.

    Certainly, in various parts of the city people are claiming that 50% of street trees have been felled on their street, and in some cases the figure is far greater. I have even read one report of a street in Rivelin losing all but one tree, with the roadside verges where the trees once grew now “concreted” over. Certainly, that road that runs past the Holly Bush pub has been totally mullered

    To stop all this silly speculation, the Council could just publish all the information that campaigners have requested, making it available for all to see, online.

    • Technotronic says:

      TREE FORUM: 2nd Meeting

      The reason why Look North’s report has any credibility at all is because, to date, whenever the Council have had something to say about trees they have always done it via the local media – NEVER by contacting campaigners or local Councillors before or after to ensure the news actually reaches them and that they understand it. In an ideal world, any announcements would be made and discussed at a forum meeting.

      Given our current circumstances in Sheffield – particularly that a felling and planting programme has begun without any strategy to guide and inform – a meeting really needs to be taking place at least once a week.

      To me, it appears that a week before the scheduled forum meeting, Cllr Fox decides what will be discussed at the forum; three days before the meeting, he starts to share those ideas. It appears that he intends to pick a different topic for each meeting and then tick it off as having undergone “detailed scrutiny” by a panel of “experts”, with the public having had ample opportunity to “have a say”, as he puts it.

      Fox STILL hasn’t defined PRECISELY what that means by “have a say”. One thing is clear, the forum is not a forum for consultation and participation with regard to enabling opportunity for stakeholders to influence decisions that affect policy and management. As a competent arboriculturist, it is obvious to me that the Highway Trees Advisory Forum, without a constitution (draughted and put out to the representatives of key stakeholders for consultation, feedback and amendment, prior to being confirmed and adopted) is nothing more than a TOTAL sham. It just serves as a platform for Streets Ahead (i.e. the Council & Amey) to serve notification, publicise policies and plans, and fulfil PR aims and objectives (Fox gets to appear as if he is taking reasonable steps to consult with stakeholders and do things in a more sensitive and prudent manner).

      The media are not probing enough to uncover the truth; they lack the necessary, relevant education, knowledge and training required to detect the distractions and misinformation, or to criticise acts and omissions in any meaningful and valid way. There are no competent arboriculturists on the panel, or independent highway engineers, nor any representatives from professional institutions / associations / groups, such as:

      Trees and Design Action Group.
      Arboricultural Association.
      Institute of Chartered Foresters.
      The National Tree Safety Group.
      The Landscape Institute.
      The UK Roads Liaison Group.
      National Joint Utilities Group.
      Joint Nature Conservation Committee:
      The Forestry Commission.
      Natural England.

      The official beliefs and opinions of Amey and the Council – to date unsupported by evidence, policy, legislation or best practice – need to be scrutinised by competent professionals with education, knowledge, training and experience relevant to the matters being approached. Citizen groups and voluntary organisations are unlikely to have the necessary expertise, or have the resources to access such expertise.

      “…over 30% of Sheffield’s population live in areas that fall within 20% most deprived in the country…”
      (Sheffield City Council: Development and Regeneration Services, 2014, pp. 1-2).

      Sheffield City Council: Development and Regeneration Services, 2014. Statement of Community Involvement. [Online] Available at:
      [Accessed 27 March 2015].

  9. Technotronic says:



    Cllr Fox (current Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport & self-appointed Chair of Highway Tree Advisory Forum) and Cllr Dore (Leader of the Labour Council) have already used such meetings as examples of them having “consulted” with residents in an appropriate and adequate manner. Furthermore, as with the forum, they use such meetings to assert that their proposals have undergone “detailed discussion” and “forensic scrutiny”.


    Furthermore, I urge ALL campaigners to avoid any offer of a site meeting that does not include the presence of at least a Streets Ahead arboriculturist AND a highways engineer. Rustlings Rd campaigners fell in to the trap of having a “street walk” without such presence. The result was that it was near impossible to get responses , let alone answers – detailed or not – and, to this day, many requests for information and letters remain ignored.

    Please remember, your councillor has no EDUCATION, TRAINING, QUALIFICATIONS OR EXPERIENCE whatsoever in respect of any aspect of tree management or highway engineering. Also, if you have a Labour Councillor, they have taken the decision to vote and act as a block, meaning that they are not receptive to new information and are unwilling to review and revise their current, firmly held opinions.

    PLEASE REMEMBER, ALL COUNCILLORS were issued with the hand-out published in support of the Save Our Rustlings Trees (SORT) campaign, which was distributed to every Councillor on 26th June, 2015, by the Sheffield City Council (SCC) Democratic Services Legal and Governance Resources department. It was produced in preparation for “debate” at a meeting of the full Council on Wednesday 1st July, 2015. The intention of the document was to support the case for the safe, long-term retention of street trees and to help encourage informed debate, based on evidence and sound knowledge of current best practice (in reality, no debate took place).

    You can access a copy of the SORT hand-out (“SORT_Rustlings Road trees June 2015.pdf”) at:

    The SORT letter to Cllr Fox, dated 14th July, is an updated version. You can access it at:

    It should also be remembered that when a petition is presented at full council, THERE ARE ONLY TWO “COURSES OF ACTION” AVAILABLE TO COUNCILLORS:

    1) note and take no action for the reasons put forward in the debate, or

    2) refer the petition to either the Cabinet, a Scrutiny Committee, a Cabinet Member or an Executive Director for consideration having regard to the comments made by Members during the course of the debate.

    In the case of the SORT petition, ALL Labour councillors (the majority of the council) opted for the first option, even though they had received the SORT hand-out.


    The option to commission and/or draft, adopt & use alternative, standard, sensitive, flexible (meaning there is room to make adjustments to suit on-site circumstances) highway engineering SPECIFICATION/S (preferably draughted by competent [see BS 5837: 2012], registered/chartered arboricultural consultants and competent highway engineers, working together, in cooperation), to enable the safe long-term retention of existing long-established street trees on street trees was not even on the “list of Streets Ahead Engineering Options”, nor was it even mentioned at the aforementioned forum meeting.

    As early as 31st May, 2015, SORT (now SAVE OUR ROADSIDE TREES) campaigners wrote to council officials stating:

    “We request that new, improved, flexible, tree-friendly highway specification/s specifically for pavements (including kerbs) with existing trees are adopted, so as to retain as many larger trees as possible. In our opinion, this would represent a practicable approach to responsible and sustainable management of green infrastructure, with regard to existing, long-established street trees. By making such changes, managers would not be required to ‘engineer solutions for every tree’, as Jeremy Willis, Ops Manager of Amey, had stated would be impracticable on 27.05.15. The new standard specification would need to be draughted in accordance with current arboricultural best practice guidance and recommendations.”

    There are no independent, competent arboriculturists on the Highway Trees Advisory Forum panel, or independent highway engineers, nor any representatives from professional institutions / associations / groups.

    The official beliefs and opinions of Amey and the Council – to date unsupported by evidence, policy, legislation or best practice – need to be scrutinised by competent professionals with education, knowledge, training and experience relevant to the matters being approached. Citizen groups and voluntary organisations are unlikely to have the necessary expertise, or have the resources to access such expertise.

    Alternative highway engineering specifications should have been commissioned and/or draughted and this should have been somewhere near the top of the list of options for consideration, as it is both urgent and necessary. Also, this should have been done prior to or at the start of the contract.

  10. Technotronic says:



    On 2nd Sept, as the second meeting of the Highway Trees Advisory Forum took place, with reference to the felling of Sheffield’s highway trees, the BBC announced:

    “…there are another 2,000 TO BE cut down THIS YEAR, so far.”

    No wonder residents are upset! As SORT point out in their >13,000 signature petition, our highway trees are key component of Sheffield’s green infrastructure; a valuable asset that make a significant contribution to our health and well-being, not least of all through their beauty and our pleasure of its enjoyment (amenity value), reducing health problems and associated NHS costs.

    In response to MP Louise Haigh’s question about the basis for opposition to the current five year of city-wide felling programme, the basis is set out in the Save our Roadside Trees (SORT) letter addressed to Cllr Fox, dated 14th July, 2015. The basis was and is also detailed in the SORT hand-out that was distributed to every Councillor on 26th June, 2015, by the Council’s Democratic Services Legal and Governance Resources department. Ms Haigh received a copy of the latter on 25th June, and again on 1st July, 2015. Both documents are accessible online, via Stocksbridge Community Forum (News section).

    Any city-wide felling programme that lacks a strategic, planned, systematic and integrated approach and that fails to involve communities (through a programme that enables education, consultation and participation) is likely to attract criticism from every quarter.

    The city-wide felling programme will drastically reduce the number of large-crowned trees along our streets, having significant negative impact on the shape, size and distribution of canopy cover along highways, and on the range, magnitude and value of associated ecosystem goods and services afforded by these trees to the environment, communities and ALL living things.

    Sheffield’s urban forest IS defined by its canopy cover, according to the Government’s own policy: The UK Forestry Standard: The governments’ approach to sustainable forest management. The standard exists to implement forestry policy and forestry principles and criteria set by the international community. It requires “stewardship and use…in a way and at a rate that maintains…their POTENTIAL to fulfil, NOW and in the future, relevant ECOLOGICAL, ECONOMIC and SOCIAL functions, at local…levels….”

    These “functions” are the ecosystem goods and services; they include those that the SORT petition mentioned. Other cities have had these valued and found them to be worth millions of pounds each year. SORT Submitted the following Freedom of information (FOI) request (Ref: FOI / 423) on 06/07/2015:

    “Under the FOI act, I request a copy of the risk assessment for the trees that are proposed to be felled on Rustlings Road please.”

    A response was received on 22/7/2015:

    “We do not carry out a risk assessment as part of our review of trees.”

    SORT also submitted another FOI request (Ref: FOI / 493) on 18/07/2015:

    “Under the FOI act, I request to see the assessment criteria and completed assessments that led to the decision to fell trees causing pavement ridging on Rustlings Road.”

    A response was received on 7/8/2015:

    “The assessment criteria are as set out on the Council’s website.”

    At that time all that we could find (as now) is the now infamous 6Ds policy that Cllr Fox claimed, at the meeting of full council on 1/7/2015, was the city’s tree strategy, presented in its entirety.

    The Acts of Parliament that the Council quote only place a duty on the Council to that which is reasonable in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES of the case.

    SORT Believe that, in fulfilment of this duty, it would be prudent and reasonable for the Council to adopt APPROPRIATE, ADEQUATE, BALANCED ASSESSMENTS TO INFORM DECISIONS and help ensure that they are DEFENDABLE. We believe this would help ensure a sustainable approach and HELP TEMPER A DESTRUCTIVE, RISK-AVERSE APPROACH, provided assessments are undertaken BY COMPETENT PEOPLE using current, widely recognised and accepted, appropriate methods. It would also help ensure that decisions that are based on sound evidence and not unduly influenced by transitory or exaggerated opinions, whether formed by the media, lobby groups or vested interests.

    SORT Are grateful to all supporters, especially The Star, for helping to highlight the urgent need for a strategic approach to the management of OUR urban forest, for the benefit of ALL and future generations.


    Note: The above letter reached my inbox at the start of this week. There was an earlier letter that did get published in The Star:

  11. Technotronic says:


    This year, my family noted that there have been noticing a significant scarcity of bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus) about. They tell me that usual sites have some plants in flower, some with bilberries and some with neither. They say this has been the case for months and that the berries that are about are much smaller than usual.

    Until a couple of weeks ago, when I set out on a walk from Bolsterstone, I thought that perhaps the bilberry crop was just a little late and everyone was over exaggerating the problem. That was until I walked along Wind Hill Knoll (grid ref: SK 244 978), after exiting Millstones Wood & crossing the Western end of Long Lane. What I found was shocking to me – symptoms of Phytophthora infection on every bilberry plant in sight! Perhaps the birds hadn’t been particularly greedy this year!

    Phytophthora sp. are fungus-like organisms – Heterokonts (AKA Stramenopiles). They are microscopic organisms that are most closely related to algae. One particular species caused the Irish potato famine that killed thousands of Irish and forced many to leave their country to live elsewhere.

    Previously, back in about 2009, I read research papers predicting how Phytophthora sp. could, in theory, devastate miles of bilberry-covered land, potentially change the face of our countryside and restrict the plant species we can grow commercially.

    Today, while out walking from the A635 (grid ref: SE 054 062) to Soldier’s Lump, on Black Hill, all about the hill, ALL bilberry plants have symptoms of Phytophthora infection. The blotched leaves are a total give away. However, what confirmed my suspected diagnosis were Rhododendron bushes near the road displaying the same foliar symptoms. BTW, While out at Longshaw, about a year ago, I saw Rhododendrons there with symptoms of Phytophthora infection – on the bushes beside the path that runs down from the café to the pond.

    It would be interesting to have a confirmed diagnosis of exactly which species of Phytophthora are causing the damage to our bilberries and to know whether or not anyone else has noticed. I guess we can all kiss goodbye to the kind of bilberry harvest that our families have enjoyed for generations, for the reasonably foreseeable future, at any rate. 

    Extracts from:
    Review of Joint Inter-Departmental Emergency Programme to Contain and Eradicate Phytophthora ramorum and Phytophthora kernoviae in Great Britain.

    By Isobel Tomlinson, Tom Harwood, Clive Potter, Jon Knight.
    Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, South Kensington
    Corresponding author: Email
    October 2009

    “3.35 Failure to engage with conservation organisations
    The habitats where Pr /Pk has been found in the UK have evolved and increased over time from initially nurseries, to woodland and then to heathland, partly due to a broadening of surveying. Early research indicated that Vaccinium myrtillus was susceptible (see Jones and Sansford [2001a] and Jones, Sansford and Brasier 2003 for concern with Vaccinium spp.) and this generated concern amongst some on the Board because heathland in the UK is a key habitat, and the UK has a large proportion of the world‟s lowland and upland heathland. The potential for Pr/Pk to cause a major conservation issue for the UK was recognised. However, it is acknowledged that “we struggled to get the conservation organisations, both the governmental and non-governmental ones, really engaged” (interviewee D, policy maker). Once, Pk had been found on Vaccinium in heathland, Natural England were engaged very quickly, but it is wished that they had been engaged earlier:

    “The other weakness was that the Programme Board was not able to get real engagement with the conservation interests during the early years as the problem was seen as a nursery/invasive Rhododendron issue. This only changed (and then very rapidly) once we found infection in Vaccinium in heathland and the potentially severe damaging nature of it became apparent” [survey respondent]

    It is understood that before Pk had been found on Vaccinnium, the theoretical risk identified through scientific research was not given priority over more pressing, current issues. This raises issues for the communication of risk and broader risk management issues. Action is required in response to potential threats (as in the initial surveys) rather than realised threats in order to avoid reactive rather than proactive policy.

    It is understood that the finding of Pk on heathland contributed to the decision to fund the new programme. The Board composition needs to reflect this, and it has been stated that the new Board will deal with this by including, for example, Natural England and the Countryside Council for Wales. However, the lack of engagement with other non-governmental conservation, environmental and rural interest organisations is of concern and it is recommended that more work is done to involve them with Pr/Pk (and plant biosecurity issues more broadly).

    The success or otherwise of the management board has been down to some extent by the individuals involved and the level of commitment and ability to work together they have demonstrated. This is something that should be kept in mind for the future.”

    The Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) Advice, 2012:

    Phytophthora ramorum and Phytophthora kernoviae are quarantine diseases and Defra needs to be notified of any findings so action can be taken against them.

    If you suspect that such a pest or disease is present, you should report it immediately to your local Plant Health and Seeds Inspector (contact details below).

    If you discover any plants showing the symptoms illustrated in this leaflet:
    _ Make a note of the location
    _ Take a photograph if possible
    _ Don’t touch the plant or take a cutting
    _ Use the contact information below

    Telephone: 01904 465625


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