Update on SORT from Deepa & new Sheffield campaign group – citywide

Update on SORT & news on a new Sheffield-wide campaign group [STAG] – adapted from notes circulated by DEEPA of the Rustlings Road group

A lot has happened recently, so this is a jam packed update. The campaign continues to grow and the SORT petition is nearing 14,000 signatures – but we still need your help! – pass it on and network it!! [ http://chn.ge/1dtg74B]

The most pressing matter, is the proposed hand-excavation of 3 trees by SCC/Streets Ahead/Amey on Friday 23rd October – apparently to see if they can be saved – which arguably means that we are no further on saving the other 8 scheduled for felling –

see The Star (16th October): http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/tree-root-excavation-planned-for-felling-symbol-rustlings-road-in-sheffield-1-7519722

On 16th September, a camp was set up in Endcliffe Park, primarily to keep an eye out for Amey’s felling trucks. This helped to generate a lot of publicity both locally and nationally, following on from our coverage in The Guardian, including:

Radio 4’s You and Yours, 12th October: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06gqdx2

The Independent ‘I’, 13th October: http://www.pressreader.com/search?query=rustlings%20road&in=ALL&date=Last3Days

Independent on Sunday – This Sunday’s edition, 18th October.

Private Eye – Rotten Boroughs’ section, October edition.

BBC Look North – coverage by regional news programme and presented a live report from the camp in September.

On 6th October, Mr Steve Robinson, council officer in charge of the Streets Ahead project, (Head of Highways Maintenance) was removed from his tree responsibilities on the project, whilst investigations take place into “the matter”. Some comments of his were secretly recorded in the work place, where he was heard saying (even arguably instructing colleagues) that they take no notice of the circumstances of any particular tree and dismissing campaigners and/or people’s arguments to keep specific trees as ‘nonsense’. There is too much coverage to list here, but a quick ‘google’ will reveal it all including:

http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/tree-campaigners-call-for-urgent-action-after-sheffield-council-chief-s-views-secretly-recorded-1-7500533

Mr Robinson described this approach/attitude as allowing he and his team to “ do our job”. His statement raises even more important questions yet to be answered: Is Mr Robinson confused about his job? Or has he received conflicting instructions as to what it actually is?

Please note Mr Simon Green’s (SCC’s Director of ‘Place’) exact comments in The Star newspaper on 7th October – “Mr Robinson has not been suspended”; rather, Mr Green merely makes it clear that a (temp?) move has occurred from the area of trees: “I can confirm that another member of staff will be running the highway trees strand of the Streets Ahead project while we are looking into this matter.”

Last week, a federation of Sheffield tree groups was created under the Sheffield Tree Action Groups (STAG) banner

This is to provide a central point of contact and to share ideas/experiences continuing the excellent work already started by Chairman Dave Dillner (also of Save Our Heeley Trees) and others.

The SST (Save Sheffield Trees) FB page and STAG FB page, continue to thrive and be invaluable tools to share information, ideas and photographs from across Sheffield.

On 15th September, the first Nether Edge tree campaign meeting at Nether Edge Bowling Club took place. It was a packed room with over 100 people present. Although work in the Nether Edge area is not scheduled until 2017, four trees on Thornsett Road have been noticed for imminent felling. Direct action is planned to prevent this from happening and an Amey truck was chased off this very morning! Our thanks go out particularly to Carly Mountain who is also working hard with others on spearheading Save Sheffield Trees (SST).

STAG will sit alongside SST & work symbiotically.

Meanwhile, SORT representatives met with Cllr Terry Fox and his advisor Tony Downing on 1st October, to further discuss in detail the potential engineering solutions (& specifications), presented in public at the Highways Tree Advisory Forum on 2nd Sept. This private meeting with Cllr Fox took some time to materialise, due to his busy schedule. Also, due to SCC cutting things short, a second meeting is now in the pipeline.

Legal avenues continue to be explored, along with crowd funding but this is more complicated than it may seem. We receive lots of emails with suggestions already pursued and the points of law are complex. Ideally, we need a solicitor and QC who specialise in Environmental Law and who would work for free (pro bono), at least in the first instance.

We are very aware of the outcome of Judicial Review for Save Devonshire Green trees yesterday, where the point of law centred around heritage, and that can be read about here: http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/blow-for-campaigners-as-legal-bid-to-save-sheffield-shops-rejected-1-7518001

We are also painfully aware of the irony of Sheffield being re-profiled (by SCC’s Creative Sheffield) on the global forum this week, as the ‘Outdoor City’ and we hope you will take time to write to local papers to express your feelings on this matter and give the 300 international delegates something to read – see here for inspiration:

http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/major-push-to-rebrand-sheffield-as-uk-s-first-outdoor-city-with-recreation-zones-suggested-1-7505474

http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/letters-opinion/letters-how-can-an-outdoor-city-have-its-trees-cut-down-1-7512569

It is worth mentioning that the Rustlings Rd trees were noticed for felling at the end of April, so we are almost 6 months on and the trees are still here. We also now have a citywide Tree Strategy (albeit one which needs urgent implementation before March 2016). So well done to all of us, for everything that has been achieved thus far!

With your continued help and support, we can keep our trees – and all the rest of Sheffield’s mature and healthy, roadside trees.

Thank you.

SORT
Save Our Roadside Trees

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