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!
Firstly, below is the latest correspondence between campaigners and the City Council.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org: Save Dore Trees.”
I think this is important. Will you sign it too?
Here’s the link:
PLEASE PASS ON, CIRCUATE AND ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO SIGN.
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!!!