The scandal over Sheffeld’s trees grows – with 16,000 indicated for the chop!!!!!!!

The scandal over Sheffeld’s trees grows  – with 16,000 indicated for the chop!!!!!!!

Rumour now has it that over 16,000 of Sheffield’s 36,000 roadside trees are for the chop – up from the recommended 500 in the 2007 consultancy report to the Council.

To describe this as monstrous, disastrous and shameful is to make a massive UNDERSTATEMENT.

All we have heard so far from AMEY and SCC appears to be lies and damned lies ……… and they seem to just keep trotting out the same old misinformation.

More in due course.

**Latest UPDATE – the actual figure that the City Council now own up to and have been forced to reveal  – is 17,500 mature trees to be removed.

Which WE the public are paying for and the re-planting of the same number of small saplings – and which of course do not provide any of the same ecosystem services or other benefits in the same amount – but which we are again paying for ……… and AMEY are laughing all the way to the bank at our expense!!!!  

UNBELIEVABLE 

 

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13 Responses to The scandal over Sheffeld’s trees grows – with 16,000 indicated for the chop!!!!!!!

  1. Neill Calvert says:

    This can’t happen. We need a plan B. I propose stop council tax payment protest for starters?

    • Technotronic says:

      SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT SAY GEY LOST TO AMEY

      “Amey AG Limited v. The Scottish Ministers, 27 November 2012 – procurement, roads services contracts
      ******************************************************************
      Outer House case in which the Scottish Ministers sought an interim order bringing to an end a prohibition under regulation 47(10) of the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2006. The prohibition prevented the Ministers from entering contracts relating to the provision of services in relation to trunk roads.

      In November 2010, the MINISTERS (acting through Transport Scotland) ADVERTISED TWO CONTRACTS FOR THE MANAGEMENT, MAINTENANCE AND IMPROVEMENT OF TRUNK ROADS.

      After adopting the competitive dialogue procedure the Ministers invited tenders. Amey and three other operators submitted tenders. However, the Ministers wrote to Amey advising that they considered Amey’s tender to be abnormally low. They stated that this presented them with unacceptable financial, operational and reputational risks in fulfilling their statutory duties. They considered that Amey had manipulated the prices and rates and explained their concerns in some detail. Correspondence followed in which Amey argued that it had taken a “holistic approach to the tender” and provided price and other information.

      However, the MINISTERS REJECTED AMEY’S BID CONCLUDING THAT THE OFFER: (a) CARRIED SIGNIFICANT UNACCEPTABLE RISKS; (b) WAS NEITHER ECONOMICALLY VIABLE NOR SUSTAINABLE; and (c) WAS NOT GENUINE.”

      Noting that Courts function was limited reviewing the Ministers’ decision solely to see whether or not there is a manifest error and/or whether the process was in some way unfair, LORD HODGE SAW NO LEGAL BASIS ON WHICH AMEY COULD CHALLENGE THE MINISTER’S CONCLUSION THAT ITS OFFER (a) CARRIED UNACCEPTABLE RISKS FOR THEM AND (b) WAS NEITHER ECONOMICALLY VIABLE OR SUSTAINABLE.

      However, if by concluding that the offer was not genuine, the Scottish Ministers were suggesting that the offer was a sham that was more problematic. Lord Hodge though did not consider that that was what was meant. The bids were assessed on the “Comparative Cost of Tender” which was a figure based on prices and rates entered by the tenderers. Lord Hodge interpreted the use of the word “genuine” as referring to the way in which Amey chose to present its offer, noting that the prices and rates Amey provided bore little relationship to the turnover that Amey expected from the contract.

      However, EVEN THE MINISTERS’ USE OF THE TERM ‘GENUINE’ HAD BEEN INCORRECT, THAT WOULD NOT HAVE UNDERMINED THEIR CONCLUSIONS ABOUT THE RISK, ECONOMIC VIABILITY AND SUSTAINABILITY OF THE BID.
      […]
      LORD HODGE GRANTED THE SCOTTISH MINISTERS’ MOTION and lifted the prohibition preventing Transport Scotland entering the proposed contracts with other contractors.”

      Source:
      http://www.legalknowledgescotland.com/?p=972
      (posted by andywduncan on December 5, 2012 in Contract)

      Judgement:
      https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/search-judgments/judgment?id=ac9a86a6-8980-69d2-b500-ff0000d74aa7

      *****
      Just three months earlier, Amey began a city-wide programme of environmental degradation in Sheffield: a programme that would result in the felling of thousands of healthy, structurally sound, mature street trees – 67.6% of mature street trees (17,528 trees).

    • Technotronic says:

      EXRACTS FROM A NEWS ITEM By Neil Elkes, Birmingham Live. 7th March 2018

      BIRMINGHAM ROADS CONTRACTOR AMEY ACCUSED OF ‘IGNORING REPAIRS TO INCREASE PROFIT’

      Council and Amey were locked in two year legal battle over the £2.7 billion road repair contract

      Birmingham roads contractor AMEY ALLEGEDLY IGNORED REPAIRS TO ‘REDUCE ITS WORKLOAD AND INCREASE ITS PROFIT”, THE COURT OF APPEAL HAS RULED.

      The company signed a £2.7 billion contract to look after the city’s highways and footpaths for 25 years in 2010.

      The Court of Appeal has now found that AMEY BIRMINGHAM HIGHWAYS LTD (ABHL) HAD IN 2014 CHANGED THE WAY IT COMPILED ITS INVENTORY of roads and pavements in need of repair.
      […]

      The court was told… “…ABHL WERE DELIBERATELY LEAVING THE DEFECTS in selected areas untreated.”
      […]

      The legal dispute revolved around whether Amey should be targeting repair and upgrade investment based on an updated list of roads, or sticking with the original 2010 inventory as the company argued.
      […]

      LORD JUSTICE JACKSON CONCLUDED that there were bound to be inaccuracies, ‘oddities’ and omissions in such a large list of roads and pavements and that A REASONABLE CONTRACTOR WOULD ALLOW FOR THAT – RATHER THAN CHARGE EXTRA to update the list.

      Mr Jackson added: “THINGS ONLY WENT WRONG IN 2014 WHEN ABHL THOUGHT UP AN INGENIOUS NEW INTERPRETATION OF THE CONTRACT, which would have the effect of reducing their workload, alternatively increasing their profit if Birmingham City Council issued change notices.”

      The Court of Appeal ruling overturned a previous decision by the High Court’s specialist Technology and Construction section in 2016.

      There could now be a further appeal to the Supreme Court.

      But COUNCIL CABINET MEMBER FOR ROADS STEWART STACEY said Amey should instead get to work on delivering the repairs expected.

      He said: “This is a significant step for the council in our aim of GETTING THE LEVEL OF INVESTMENT INTO OUR ROADS THAT WE BELIEVE SHOULD HAVE BEEN PROVIDED BY AMEY during the first five years of the contract.
      […]

      A spokesman for Amey said that it is considering ‘all options’ after the case.
      […]

      He stressed that 500 miles of road and 400 miles of pavement have been resurfaced, 42,000 street lights replaced, traffic lights upgraded and other roads improved – including the Queensway tunnels – since the contract began in 2010.
      […]

      WHAT DOES HIGHWAYS CONTRACT INCLUDE?
      Amey is responsible for maintaining approximately 2,500 kilometres of highway in Birmingham – until 2035.
      […]

      SINCE 2010 AMEY HAS BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR ENSURING THAT THERE IS A COMPLETE AND ACCURATE INVENTORY of roads, pavements and street furniture such as bollards and lights which fell under the contract AS WELL AS THEIR CONDITION.

      AMEY HAS ALSO PREVIOUSLY SAID THE INVENTORY OVER-STATED THE CONDITION OF MANY ROADS and a lot more work was needed than indicated.
      It was claimed some roads were only part resurfaced because the INFORMATION WAS ALSO MISSING.

      Aside from the dispute, which relates to roads, councillors have found broken street lamps which were NOT BEING FIXED BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT ON THE ORIGINAL INVENTORY LIST.

      AMEY HAS BEEN TELLING THE COUNCIL ‘IF IT IS NOT ON THE LIST’ THEN ANY WORKS WILL COST EXTRA.

      But THE COURT OF APPEAL HAS DECIDED in the council’s favour and THAT AMEY SHOULD BE EXPECTED TO BE MORE FLEXIBLE IN ITS APPROACH to managing the city’s road repairs.

      Source:
      https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/birmingham-road-repairs-company-amey-14378296

      *****
      This highlights the importance of ensuring that the Council’s Highway PFI Client Team is ADEQUATELY RESOURCED FROM THE START AND FOR THE DURATION OF THE CONTRACT!

      For further detail, please see the following:

      https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/important-update-from-deepa-shetty-on-behalf-of-stag/#comment-1449

      https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/full_work_contact_details_for_sc

      https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/important-update-from-deepa-shetty-on-behalf-of-stag/#comment-1415

      https://savesheffieldtreesorguk.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/elliott_scc_highway-tree-survey-2006-07.pdf

    • Technotronic says:

      BIRMINGHAM COUNCIL Vs AMEY – The Council Won

      Selected extracts from:

      AMEY PLOTS ROUTE TO EXIT CONTROVERSIAL £2.7BN ROADS DEAL

      May 14th, 2018
      By Alex Turner

      “Amey is looking to end its £2.7BN HIGHWAYS MAINTENANCE CONTRACT with Birmingham City Council despite it having 17 years left to run, TheBusinessDesk.com can reveal.

      The infrastructure support services group is currently paying penalties averaging £4m per month and its Spanish parent Ferrovial has had to put a £208m provision into its accounts to cover additional costs.

      The accounting change is a result of A COURT OF APPEAL JUDGEMENT earlier this year, WHICH FOUND IN FAVOUR OF the city council, and THE COUNCIL’S DECISION TO CHARGE FULL DEDUCTIONS OF 100% OF REVENUES PER MONTH.

      Ferrovial chief executive Íñigo Meirás has now said Amey is looking to exit the 25-year deal early.
      […]

      THE 25-YEAR CONTRACT WITH BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL BEGAN IN 2010, but since 2014 the two sides have been at loggerheads. Amey overturned the judgement of an independent adjudicator in the High Court in 2016 but the city council had this reversed in the Court of Appeal.

      Amey has requested permission to appeal before the Supreme Court but Ferrovial believes the provision, which covers investments, deductions and penalties, is ‘a prudent approach’.

      It had expected the ‘extraordinarily high amounts of penalties and deductions levied’ to be reduced, as they had been in previous years. But Birmingham City Council has maintained deductions at the higher level although AMEY HAS SAID IT “WILL ATTEMPT TO OVERTURN THEM WITH THE MECHANISMS PROVIDED IN THE CONTRACT”.

      Meirás said: ‘The amounts we considered were in the range of £50,000-£150,000 per month. The average in the first four months of the year is around £4m per month.’
      […]

      THE CONTRACT WAS SPLIT INTO A FIVE-YEAR CORE INVESTMENT PERIOD and then enter an operational phase. Although Ferrovial has closed its accounts for the investment period, the city council has said

      THIS PERIOD ‘WILL NOW REMAIN OPEN UNTIL THE MILESTONE WORKS ARE COMPLETED’.

      Ferrovial expects ‘a material proportion’ of its investment will be recovered through the later phase.

      Amey has said more than £350m was invested in the city’s highways in the first five years. The PFI contract has handed over the maintenance of 2,500km of roads, 4,200km of footways, 95,000 street lights,

      76,000 STREET TREES,

      around 1,100 traffic light signals and over 1,000 bridges, tunnels and highways structures.”

      *****
      SOURCE:

      TheBusinessDesk.com:
      http://www.thebusinessdesk.com/westmidlands/news/2017449-amey-wants-exit-controversial-2.7bn-roads-deaL

      • Technotronic says:

        AMEY PENALISED FOT TELLING LIES

        *****
        “AMEY HIT BY £50M BIRMINGHAM PFI COMPENSATION”

        By Dom Browne – 13th June 2018

        “Amey has been ordered to pay Birmingham City Council more than £50m in compensation after the contractor lost a long-running court battle earlier this year, according to reports.

        Adjudicator Andrew Goddard QC found in favour of the council’s claim that it had overpaid AMEY, AS THE CONTRACTOR HAD NOT CARRIED OUT ROAD MAINTENANCE WORK THAT THE COURT FOUND IT WAS OBLIGED TO.

        In February, the court ruled against what it called Amey’s ‘ingenious new interpretation’ of the 25-year PFI deal it entered into in 2010.

        The adjudication applies to Amey Birmingham Highways Limited, the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), of which Amey is a minority investor. The SPV is contracted to Birmingham City Council to deliver the PFI project.

        AMEY Birmingham Highways Ltd (ABHL) WAS ‘DELIBERATELY LEAVING THE DEFECTS IN SELECTED AREAS UNTREATED’ the court found, and had ‘been CARRYING OUT WORKS BASED ON INACCURATE INVENTORY INFORMATION’.

        In May, Amey’s parent company Ferrovial reported it had been forced to set aside around £208m to tackle the possible losses from the Birmingham deal, which had been bogged in dispute since 2014.”
        […]

        SOURCE:
        https://www.transport-network.co.uk/Amey-hit-by-50m-Birmingham-PFI-compensation/15105

    • Technotronic says:

      SHAMEY RIPPING OFF BIRMINGHAM & SHEFFIELD

      *****
      GRAEME SYMONDS: THE AMEY NETWORK DIRECTOR
      RESPONSIBLE FOR CORE INVESTMENT WORKS (LIGHTING & RESURFACING)

      “TWO BILLION POUNDS IS A LOT OF MONEY IN A RECESSION AND A PUBLIC SPENDING CRISIS. When belts are being tightened in business and in Whitehall, projects on that scale are being FORCED TO JUSTIFY EVERY LAST PENNY.
      […]

      ’The importance of this contract for Sheffield cannot be underestimated. It has the potential to have an immense impact on the city, not just over the next 25 years, but for generations to come,’ said GRAEME SYMONDS, AMEY PROJECT DIRECTOR FOR THE SHEFFIELD HIGHWAYS MAINTENANCE PFI.
      […]

      HE HAS WORKED ON CREATING A SIMILAR, 2.7bn PROJECT IN ***** BIRMINGHAM *****, where Amey has been named the preferred supplier – although Mr SYMONDS emphasises the firm has to ‘get under the skin of Sheffield’ rather than merely importing the techniques used in Britain’s second city – with the project due to start in April and run for 25 years.
      [….]

      And, he is at pains to add, the PFI provider bears the risk. ‘IF YOU DO SOMETHING THAT GOES WRONG, THEN IT IS UP TO US TO PUT IT RIGHT AND THE TAXPAYER WILL NOT BE PUT AT RISK – that is a fundamental part of it.’
      […]

      This might be good news for people living and working in Sheffield, but what about the other ripples of such a transformational scheme – disruption, noise, delays and the cost to the environment?

      Most people would want to see their city improved, but not by having their road dug up for months on end.

      Mr Symonds is realistic, accepting that life will be more complex for motorists for a while but saying Amey has already planned how to mitigate this – for example, it says it will never work on parallel streets at the same time.

      ‘You cannot develop a programme of this scale without some sort of disruption (but] we don’t focus all our resources in one area so we won’t bring the area to a halt. For example, YOU MAY HAVE A DAY OR TWO OR A WEEK OR TWO OF SOME INCONVENIENCE but it will be outweighed by 25 years of improvements.’
      […]

      ‘Everybody is touched by the transport network in some way and EVERYBODY SHOULD HAVE A SAY.’
      […]

      SHEFFIELD CITY COUNCIL HAS CITED SEVEN KEY WAYS TO IMPROVE THE AREA:
      […]

      HIGHWAY TREES REPLACED AND BETTER MAINTAINED.
      […]

      GRAEME SYMONDS, THE MAN BEHIND AMEY’S PLANS FOR SHEFFIELD’S HIGHWAYS, intends to relocate to the city from Hertfordshire if the firm’s tender is successful.

      The married father of three, who LIVES OUTSIDE BEDFORD, started his career as a civil engineer at Breheny, in Ipswich, after contemplating a career in the police.

      He went on to work in local government in Carlisle and Kendal, in Cumbria. Mr SYMONDS, the son of an RAF weapons engineer and a teacher, joined Amey in 2002.”

      *****
      SOURCE:

      Yorkshire Post, 2009 (27th October). “Putting Sheffield on road to the future”. [online]
      Available at:
      http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/putting-sheffield-on-road-to-the-future-1-2308493

      ALSO, SEE:

      Streets Ahead – Project Update
      (Meeting of Economic and Environmental Wellbeing Scrutiny and Policy Development Committee, Wednesday 10 July 2013 4.45 pm [Item 6.]):

      http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=6270

    • Technotronic says:

      STEVE ROBINSON’S LINKEDIN PROFILE (CV), IN FULL – NOT REDACTED

      *****
      Steve Robinson
      HEAD OF HIGHWAY MAINTENANCE AT SHEFFIELD CITY COUNCIL

      LOCATION
      Bakewell, Derbyshire, United Kingdom

      INDUSTRY
      Construction

      PREVIOUS
      1. CAPITA SYMONDS,
      2. CUMBRIA County Council

      EDUCATION
      1. Manchester University
      Civil Engineering
      1977 – 1980

      BACKGROUND
      SUMMARY

      Synopsis:

      • Currently leading the delivery of the £2bn 25 year highway maintenane PFI in Sheffield

      • 35 years experience of highways and transportation service delivery, client and change management, transformation and business growth

      • Managed over 520 staff delivering highways, transportation and property services in 12 offices across the north of England and Scotland

      • Managed the services delivered related to the Cumbria County Council road network .

      • Been part of and worked with local authority highways clients, dealing with stakeholders, policies and developing improvement plans and savings initiatives

      • 24 years in the public sector gaining an insight into the challenges of working in a democratic environment.

      • Committed and energetic leader, with a track record in building and running successful profitable businesses that deliver against contractual and company targets in both the private and public sectors.

      • 11 years in the private sector with full P&L, risk, compliance, operational and commercial responsibility to a Board and exceeded Business Plan financial targets in each of those years.

      • 11 year track record of success in local and central government work winning and OUTSOURCING WITH AN ABILITY TO STRATEGICALLY MANAGE CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS WITH sensitivity and POLITICAL SAVVY.

      • Track record of DRIVING INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY and opportunity identification and development.

      • People based management style evidenced by recognition as an Investor in People Gold standard accreditation.

      SPECIALTIES: KEY SKILLS:

      • Highway Maintenance
      • Operational Delivery and Highways and Property Management
      • Commercial Management
      • Public Sector Highways and Property Outsourcing Bid Direction
      • Understanding and experience of highways and property maintenance and management
      • Leadership, INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY FOCUSED AROUND PEOPLE

      EXPERIENCE

      Head of Highway Maintenance
      Sheffield City Council
      APRIL 2012 – Present (3 years 4 months) Sheffield, United Kingdom

      Delivering the Highways PFI contract that commenced in August 2012. The “Streets Ahead” project will invest £2bn in the City’s highway road network over the next 25 years with an initial core investment period of 5 years to bring up the condition of the highway and its assets including 68,000 street lights, 610 bridges and 480 traffic signal sites.

      JUST TAKEN RESPONSIBILITY FOR FLOOD AND WATER MANAGEMENT IN THE CITY and delivering a wide ranging programme valued at over £50m of FLOOD MANAGEMENT WORKS THAT WILL ALSO INNOVATIVELY FACILITATE economic development, regeneration, housing, water quality, amenity and river channel maintenance improvements.

      Divisional Operations and Bid Director
      Capita SYMONDS
      February 2001 – December 2011 (10 years 11 months) North and Scotland

      Responsibilities as Divisional Operations and Bid Director

      Management of a team of over 520 staff and annual turnover of greater than £28m

      GENERAL RESPONSIBILITIES
      • Responsible for all operational activity in reporting to the Executive Director.
      • Demonstrate leadership in setting and achieving Divisional plans
      • Ensure safe, efficient, effective and consistent operations in compliance with the Company Business Management Systems.
      • Ensure the standard and quality of Divisional services is continuously improving.
      • Development of people in line with the Company values
      • Work collaboratively with other Directors, Key Account Managers and Service and Business Leads

      OPERATIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES
      • Day to day responsibility for the P&L for large multi-disciplinary teams
      • Ensure operational and financial performance on all projects is of the required standard.
      • Take a leading role within the Division for major Organic tenders, frameworks and divisional sales initiatives.
      • Take ownership of and direct appropriate “Big Ticket” strategic and partnership tender opportunities.
      • Direct the national organic sales support team to best support the Division’s work winning effort.
      • Ensure consistent development of staff and succession planning.
      • Contribute to Divisional Sales/Acquisition Pre-qualifications and “Black Hats” to review commercial and operational matters.

      Consultancy Manager
      CUMBRIA County Council
      July 1980 – January 2001 (20 years 7 months) CUMBRIA

      • Responsible for the tender documentation to externalise the white collar service (of some 700 staff delivering highways, property, graphic design, payroll, HR and personnel) – one of the first externalisations of its kind.

      • Took over management of the motorway and trunk road network in CUMBRIA consisting of 97km of motorway and 334km of trunk roads in rural and urban areas including structures and depots.

      • In 1995 took over the infrastructure consultancy and introduced the expansion and diversification of services including environment and regeneration.

      • Managed Contractors delivering the highway maintenance services.

      • Grew new business outside the geographical area of CUMBRIA through a creative approach to the Goods and Services Act – including the management of the Highways Agency trunk road network in Lincolnshire where we worked alongside the contractor in partnership.

      • Built up the business in preparation for externalisation.

      • Responsible for the management of the motorway and trunk road network in CUMBRIA.

      • Managed all the major road and regeneration projects in CUMBRIA.

      • Set up and grew a facilities management service.

      • Project managed the £60m Genesis IT project that delivered the rollout of public access to IT facilities across the whole of the rural county of CUMBRIA.

      SKILLS

      • Highways
      • Highway Maintenance
      • Commercial Management
      • Procurement
      • Flood Management
      • Civil Engineering
      • Construction
      • Road
      • Contract Negotiation
      • Construction Management
      • Program Management
      • Risk Management
      • Tenders
      • Tendering
      • Bid

      **********
      SOURCE:
      http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/steve-robinson/45/689/795
      Accessed: 27/7/2015

      Interestingly, Mr Robinson appears to have been responsible for highway maintenance in CUMBRIA when GRAEME SYMONDS (THE AMEY NETWORK DIRECTOR in Sheffield for the PFI Core Investment Period) was also in Cumbria. See:

      http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/putting-sheffield-on-road-to-the-future-1-2308493

      *****
      Originally posted at Stocksbridge Community Forum (online).

  2. Technotronic says:

    SHEFFIELD CITY COUNCIL / AMEY: DECEIT & MISINFORMATION

    A LETTER TO SHEFFIELD TELEGRAPH (dated 15th November, 2016)

    “The £2.2 billion, city-wide, 25yr Amey PFI contract for highway maintenance (the Streets Ahead project) permits the felling of 67.7% of MATURE highway trees – half the population of Sheffield’s 35,057 highway trees. Non-compliance with good practice could result in the felling of many more.

    At a meeting of full Council, on 1st July, 2015, the Deputy Leader of the Council (Cllr Leigh BRAMALL) stated:

    ‘Just before Streets Ahead, we had an independent survey done, erm, assessing all the trees across Sheffield, and it found that 70% were nearing the end of their life and 10,000 needed urgent attention. …Now, the contract says up to 50 % of trees can be removed, erm, and actually that’s 18,000.’

    The Cabinet Member for Environment & Transport (Cllr Terry Fox) added:
    ‘The survey noted that 74% of our mature tree stock with very few young trees has given this combination the rate of decline evidence by the number of trees needing treatment.’

    Commenting on the survey, Cllr Fox added: it “helps us inform our priorities for the formation of the contract” (the Amey PFI ).

    At a later meeting of full Council, on 3rd February, 2016, Cllr BRAMALL stated:

    ‘In 2006/7 an independent survey assessed the city’s highway tree stock. This survey found that over 75% of the city’s 36,000 trees were nearing the end of their natural life and only 5% of the trees were classed as being in the ‘young’ age group.’

    (Cllr BRAMALL also stated: “We have 36,000 highway trees on the street. The contract states that up to 50% can be replaced.”)

    These exact words later appeared in a document that SCC presented to the High Court of Justice (during R [Dillner] v Sheffield CC and Amey Hallam Highways Ltd), under the heading: “Streets Ahead Approach to decision making regarding highway tree removal and replacement”.

    The survey referred to is ‘Sheffield City Highways Tree Survey 2006 – 2007’. It was undertaken by Elliott Consultancy Ltd. I contacted Mr Elliott to enquire about the findings of the survey and to request a copy of the report: SORT had been requesting these from the Streets Ahead team for almost twelve months. Mr Elliott responded: “A formal report was not requested nor provided.” He added:

    ‘IF THERE WAS EVER ANY REQUEST FOR A FORMAL REPORT THEN WE WERE NOT AWARE OF IT – OUR ROLE WAS TO SURVEY THE STREET TREE STOCK AND PROVIDE THAT DATA TO THE ASSET MANAGEMENT COMPANY… THAT REALLY WAS OUR COMPLETE REMIT – NEITHER FORMAL MANAGEMENT OR A STRATEGIC ROLE.” He added: “I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PFI BID OR WITH ANY OF THE SUBSEQUENT SURVEYS, MANAGEMENT, OR STRATEGIC DISCUSSIONS’.

    Last week, Save Our Roadside Trees (SORT) released a news update. It has caused a stir! SORT used a direct quote from Mr Elliott’s response to me:

    ‘DID I TELL THEM THEY NEEDED TO REMOVE HALF OF THEIR TREE STOCK? NO.

    DID I TELL THEM THAT 70% OF THE TREES WERE NEARING THE END OF THEIR LIFE? NO […]

    DID I EVEN SUGGEST THAT THE 10,000 BITS OF TREE WORK WERE ‘URGENT’? NO –

    (you have seen the pp and IT WAS CLEARLY EXPLAINED THAT 25,000 TREES NEEDED NO WORK, and of that 10,000 almost half were routine crown-lifting operations, another quarter being deadwooding operations, and others including the whole gamut of routine works etc. (I DID SUGGEST TO THEM THAT THERE WERE A COUPLE OF HUNDRED TREES THAT COULD BE RETAINED BUT THEIR CONDITION WAS SUCH THAT THEY MAY MERIT REPLACEMENT – THIS WAS THE ONLY PRE-EMPTIVE FELLING ISSUE THAT I RECALL MENTIONING).’

    A copy of the ‘pp’ (PowerPoint slide show), mentioned above, can be accessed online, at Stocksbridge Community Forum (news). THERE APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN WILFUL ATTEMPTS BY SCC AND THE STREETS AHEAD TEAM TO DECEIVE THE PUBLIC AND THE HIGH COURT. Trust in the Council and in its credibility is at an all-time low. Openness honesty and transparency is long overdue. WHEN WILL THE COUNCIL BEGIN TO HONOUR THE POLICY COMMITMENT IT MADE ON 3RD FEBRUARY, 2016: ‘TO BEING OPEN AND TRANSPARENT WITH THE SHEFFIELD PUBLIC ENSURING ALL RELEVANT INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN’?

    D.Long (Arboriculturist & Urban Forester), Sheffield.”

    Source:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/683#comment-683

    *****

    NOTES:
    When commenting on the survey, Cllr Fox’s exact words (on 1st July 2015) were:

    “We had an independent survey done in 2006-2007 which helps us inform our priorities for the formation of the contract…”

    Source:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/177#comment-177

    The “Sheffield City Highways Tree Survey 2006 – 2007” PowerPoint presentation (“pp”) that Elliott referred to can be accessed using this link:

    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/sites/default/files/files/Elliott_SCC_Highway%20Tree%20Survey%202006-07.pdf

  3. Technotronic says:

    On 13th December 2017, the following letter was sent to various newspapers:
    SHEFFIELD TELEGRAPH, THE STAR & The Yorkshire Post.

    The author has kindly granted permission for me to share it here. The author has advised that two versions of the letter were submitted to the editors. The second version was shorter, by the omission of the paragraph that is enclosed between square brackets, below.

    *****
    STREET TREES & HIGHWAY RESURFACING

    Dear Editor,

    In Sheffield Telegraph (7/12/2017), an anonymous person – I’ll name Willis, for convenience – responded to an earlier letter. Willis criticised the contributor for suggesting that roots of street trees that are associated with damage to footways and kerbs could be pruned or sculpted, by contractors working on the £2.2bn “Streets Ahead” highway maintenance project, as suitable alternatives to felling.

    Most mature street trees are associated with such damage and are routinely listed for felling by the contractor delivering the project – Amey – & Sheffield City Council (SCC). The city-wide felling of healthy, structurally sound, mature street trees has attracted international media attention and universal condemnation from many green-space professionals, including eminent academics and arboriculturists. Willis asserted that roots would react to wounding by adding greater incremental growth than usual (reaction wood) and that would result in damage to hard surfaces.

    With oblique reference to research published in 1998*, Willis asserted that the Forestry commission had undertaken an investigation in Sheffield to explore “the difficulty of repairing and resurfacing streets without causing root damage.” In fact, the research referred to was an investigation of the distribution and thickness of tree roots associated with footway damage. The investigation only looked at five trees – all ‘Kanzan’ cherries, like those on Abbeydale Park Rise. However, the research DID NOT investigate or compare methods or techniques for working on or around roots, or for “repairing and resurfacing streets”.

    It is reasonably practicable to undertake excavation & construction in close proximity to trees without causing significant root damage, by ensuring acts and omissions represent current good practice, as detailed in the petition hand-outs that the Save Our Roadside Trees group (SORT) have distributed to Amey, SCC Officers, and every Councillor in the city. These are available for all to see, at the Stocksbridge Community Forum website. Root growth and distribution is significantly affected by physical & chemical properties of the “soil” in which the plants grow. This point was highlighted by the research. It indicates the necessity to ensure there is adequate site preparation prior to planting, so as to help avoid future damage to the built environment. If planting street trees, just digging a hole slightly bigger than the root ball and back-filling it cannot achieve this and is not a sustainable approach, particularly if one aim is to optimise the provision of benefits afforded by trees.

    [Seven of the eight trees felled in the pre-dawn raid on Rustlings Road, a year ago, were felled because of minor disturbance to footways and kerbs. Nineteen of the twenty-three WW1 memorial trees on Western Rd that are to be felled are schedulled for felling for the same reasons. Prior to the £2.2bn Streets Ahead PFI, mature trees accounted for 73.8% of Sheffield’s street trees. SCC say the contract permits the felling of 67.7% of mature street trees. Most are associated with damage to footways and kerbs. Their loss is resulting in significant, instant depletion of street canopy cover, and loss in the magnitude of valuable ecological, economic and social benefits it provides to communities and neighbourhoods, with direct, negative impact on the health & well-being. Sadly, such benefits have not been valued or accounted for by SCC or Amey, nor was their loss, contrary to existing policy commitments, contractual commitments, and a range of current good practice guidance and recommendations that they claim to use.]

    It must be noted that since 1998, a range of good practice guidance has become available to aid those undertaking works in close proximity to trees and help enable the safe long-term retention of mature trees. New products have emerged and are now widely used elsewhere, throughout the UK & overseas. They include resin-bonded aggregates and Flexi®-Pave – an alternative to Asphalt. The key benefit of Flexi®-Pave is that it flexes as plant parts thicken, whereas asphalt cracks and requires additional maintenance. Interestingly, the SCC Head of Highway Maintenance has stated:

    “The engineering and tree-based solutions come at no extra cost to the council. So, the tax-payer does not pay if an engineering solution or a tree-based solution can be applied”

    “IF AN ENGINEERING SOLUTION CAN BE APPLIED, THEN IT WILL BE APPLIED. …a tree is removed as a LAST resort”.

    He also informed that the “solutions” are a list of ideas and that they include: excavation; “flexible paving/surfacing solution”; ramping/re-profiling; use of thinner kerbs; removal of displaced kerbs; pruning (including pollarding); “creation of larger tree pits”.

    When I met Cllr Lodge (SCC’s Cabinet member for Environment And Streetscene), on 1st August, 2016, he informed:

    “The money that we need to monitor that contract is not there, because we try to make savings and… We haven’t got the number of people in that client management team which we ought to have.”

    However, he also informed that SCC had fined Amey over £2 million in 2015, for sub-standard works and were: “just in the process of taking some action against Amey” for the same reason. Really, SCC could and should enforce compliance with existing good practice and contractual commitments.

    Yours faithfully,

    D.Long (BSc Hons Arb. Former Highways)

    * Reference:

    Nicoll, B.C. and Armstrong, A., 1998. Development of Prunus root systems in a city street: Pavement damage and root architecture. Arboricultural Journal, 22(3), pp.259-270.
    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03071375.1998.9747209

    Source:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/838#comment-838

    *****
    For current good practice, see the following:

    • “COST OF SUSTAINABILITY”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/822#comment-822 (reference # 9)

    • “THE COUNCIL AND THE STREETS AHEAD TEAM HAVE EXISTING POLICY COMMITMENTS, TO COMPLY WITH CURRENT GOOD PRACTICE”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/793#comment-793

    • “AMEY’S LEGAL OBLIGATION”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/787#comment-787

    • “THE COUNCIL’S COMMITMENT TO RETAIN MATURE HIGHWAY TREES”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/536#comment-536

    • “THE DISCRETION TO RETAIN MATURE TREES”:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/543#comment-543

  4. Technotronic says:

    LETTER

    On 22nd December 2017, the following letter was sent to various newspapers:

    THE STAR & The Yorkshire Post.

    The letter was prepared on 10th Oct 2017, in response to ignorant comment reported in The Star. To date, it has not appeared in print.

    *****
    “STREET TREES: MYTH Vs FACT

    Dear Editor,

    Opponents of Sheffield Tree Action Groups (including most Councillors) often point out that the first Sheffield tree group – now known as Save Our Roadside Trees (SORT) – did not begin until over two and a half years in to the £2.2bn ‘Streets Ahead’ highway maintenance project. They use this fact as evidence that nobody had a problem with the mass felling programme until then. However, a less well publicised fact is that the SORT group formed because Sheffield City Council and the service provider (Amey) had insisted that felling was a last resort, but refused to provide any evidence that alternative highway engineering specifications had been commissioned or drafted for consideration for use, as an alternative to the felling of healthy, mature, structurally sound street trees – trees associated with minor damage to footways and kerbs.

    As recently as October 2016, SCC confirmed that no such alternative specifications have ever been commissioned or drafted. In February 2017, Cllr Lodge (SCC Cabinet member for Environment & Streetscene) revealed that SCC had lied to the public when it had wrongly spent over a year telling citizens that FLEXI®-PAVE had been/would be used as an alternative surfacing product around mature trees, to enable their retention. He informed:

    ‘FLEXI®-PAVE AS A PRODUCT HAS NOT BEEN USED ON THE STREETS AHEAD CONTRACT. … flexible paving actually includes the use of asphalt, so flexible paving solutions have been used’.

    On 23rd July, 2015, at the first of the two ‘bi-monthly’ meetings of the Highway Tree Advisory Forum (HTAF) that have occurred to date, Steve Robinson (SCC Head of Highway Maintenance) informed:

    ‘So, our underinvestment and underfunding left us with a number of DEAD, DYING and DANGEROUS trees. …THERE WERE 1,200 TREES THAT WERE WITHIN THAT CATEGORY. So, Amey identified those trees and addressed those first.
    […]
    Our next priority is to improve the condition of our roads and pavements. So, in other words, deal with the DAMAGING trees… So, we’re now looking to deal with DISCRIMINATORY trees.

    …there’s been 2,563 highway trees removed because they met one of the 6Ds and there was NO OTHER RECTIFICATION that we could carry out. Each tree that is taken out is replaced on a one-for-one basis.

    …IF AN ENGINEERING SOLUTION CAN BE APPLIED, THEN IT WILL BE APPLIED. …a tree is removed as a LAST resort’

    In response to a 140 page letter from SORT, dated 29th January 2016 (distributed as to every Councillor in the city), on 2nd February 2016 (the day before SCC “debate” of the petition by the Nether Edge tree group), Amey released a contract document which they claimed had been kept secret because it was “commercially sensitive”. The document lists 25 ideas that Amey claim consider for use – as a substitute for alternative highway engineering specifications – to retain mature street trees.

    At the second HTAF meeting, on 2nd September 2015, Mr Robinson presented the list of 25 ideas. With regard to the first 13 ideas (which included alternative surfacing), he informed:

    ‘The engineering and tree-based solutions come at no extra cost to the council. So, the tax-payer does not pay if an engineering solution or a tree-based solution can be applied and the reason for that is that the Streets Ahead project is a highway maintenance project and engineering and tree-based solutions are highway maintenance solutions.’

    With regard to minor damage to the highway, he stated:

    ‘The Council has a defence under the Highways Act – Section 58 defence under the Highways Act – of not having sufficient funding to deal with all those defects.’

    In the contract document, Amey commit to: ‘MAXIMISE potential CANOPY COVER’, SUSTAINABILITY, and ‘HOLISTIC’, ‘INNOVATIVE’ highway design and management.

    Prior to spring 2015, during 2013 The Star twice reported that 1,250 street trees would be felled ‘in total’. It reported that those trees were dangerous, diseased or dying, and informed:

    ‘hundreds more trees could also be felled where they are deemed to be damaging road surfaces or “causing a hazard”‘.

    Hundreds became thousands. This was not revealed until SCC ‘debate’ of the SORT petition, on 1st July 2015, when Cllr Jayne Dunn (previously SCC Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene) informed that 5,000 street trees would be felled during the Streets Ahead project, and Cllr Leigh Bramall (then SCC Deputy Leader) informed that the £2.2bn contract permits the felling of 18,000 mature street trees. Cllr Bramall misrepresented the results of a street tree survey, and misrepresented current good practice, by wrongly asserting that 70% of street trees were ‘nearing the end of their life’ and without felling thousands of trees, and restocking, there would be ‘a catastrophic decline in the number of trees in 10 or 20 years’ time’.

    Amey will have felled 6,000 mature street trees by 2018. As 80% were NOT categorised as dead, dying or dangerous, and none of those provisionally scheduled for felling have been retained, it would appear that Sheffielders have been misled, deceived and fiddled, by SCC & Amey.”

    *****
    The author appended additional comment (sadly, the audio recordings cannot be shared on this website, as there is no option to do so):

    Because Johnston Publishing Ltd (The Star) has previously refused to print my letters, on the false basis that “it is not possible” to verify my quotes, as evidence that my quotes are correct, please listen to the attached audio recordings:

    • Cllr Bryan Lodge – SCC Cabinet Member For Environment And Streetscene – 1st February 2017_RVR_Petition – Response to Mr Buxton_Flexi®-Pave_NOT USED_170201_009_8_2

    • Cllr Jayne Dunn – Former SCC Cabinet Member For Environment, Recycling And Streetscene – 1st July 2015_SORT_Petition_5,000_6Ds_Cost_Sustainability_150701_003_1_15_2_1

    • Cllr Leigh Bramall – Deputy Leader of SCC – 1st July 2015_SORT_Petition_Elliott_70%_10,000_18,000_150701_003_5_2

    • HTAF 1_23rd_July_2015_Steve_Robinson – SCC Head of Highway Maintenance_Elliott_6Ds_Accountability_Specification_NO OTHER RECTIFICATION_150723_002_8

    • HTAF 2_2nd_September_2015_Steve_Robinson – SCC Head of Highway Maintenance_NO EXTRA COST SOLUTIONS_150902_001_2_3_2

    • HTAF 2_2nd_September_2015_Steve_Robinson – SCC Head of Highway Maintenance_Section 58 Defence – Insufficient Funding_150902_001_2_3_2

    Also see the following:

    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/sites/default/files/files/6Ds_SCC%20%26%20AMEY%20HIGHWAYS%20INFRASTRUCTURE%20ASSESSMENT%20CRITERIA%20-%20LICENCE%20TO%20KILL_1.pdf

    • A letter from the SCC Chief Executive to Nick Clegg MP:

    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/sites/default/files/files/LETTER%20From%20SCCs%20Chief%20Executive%20to%20Nick%20Clegg%20MP%20-%20OVER%204yrs%20IN%20TO%20A%20%C2%A32.2%20bn%20PROJECT%20%26%20NO%20ALTERNATIVE%20HIGHWAY%20ENGINEERING%20SPECIFICATIONS%20DRAFTED.pdf

    Quote:

    “The report suggested in 2006 that around 1,000 trees should be replaced… The report only considered tree condition and not trees in the categories of DAMAGING or Discriminatory.

    IT IS TRUE THAT THE COUNCIL HAVE NOT COMMISSIONED ANY OTHER ENGINEERING SOLUTIONS and that is because the LIST of 25 engineering solutions is itself a diverse compendium of possible solutions available including changes to footways and kerbs.”

    http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/row-over-sheffield-tree-felling-set-to-ramp-up-in-2016-1-7641587

    • The SORT letter dated 29th January 2016 (the Nether Edge petition hand-out – distributed to EVERY Councillor in the city) triggered Amey & SCC to publish a back-dated “COMMERCIALLY SENSITIVE” 5yr contract document, on 2nd February 2016:

    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/sites/default/files/files/SCC_Sheffield%20Streets%20Ahead%205%20Year%20Tree%20Management%20Strategy.pdf

    • Sheffield City Highways Tree Survey 2006 – 2007 (the “report” referred to by John Mothersole [& Cllr Terry Fox, as SCC Cabinet Member for Environment & Transport, in 2015]):

    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/sites/default/files/files/Elliott_SCC_Highway%20Tree%20Survey%202006-07.pdf

    • SCC / AMEY: DECEIT & MISINFORMATION (A LETTER TO SHEFFIELD TELEGRAPH):

    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/683#comment-683

    *****
    SOURCE:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/839#comment-839

  5. Technotronic says:

    THE ITP, FELLING SURVEY & SCC MALPRACTICE

    A letter The Star refused to publish.

    Looking through my inbox, I have come across the following letter, addressed to The Star, dated 20th May 2016. It was never published by The Star. The author has kindly granted permission for me to share it here, in its entirety.

    *****

    LODGE: A COMPLAINT
    (a letter to The Star newspaper, dated 20th May 2016)

    Dear Editor,

    Amey, the PFI contractor for the £2.2bn Streets Ahead Highway maintenance project, has permission to fell 50% of Sheffield’s mature highway trees (18,000 trees). Sheffield Tree Action Groups have noted that the acts and omissions of Sheffield City Council (SCC) and the Streets Ahead team (SA) do not comply with current good practice. The appointment of Cllr Bryan Lodge as the new Cabinet Member for Environment should be an opportunity for positive change, but he has stated that felling will continue according to schedule. A conservative estimate, provided by SA, is that 100 mature highway trees per month will be felled. Most will be felled for one or more of the following reasons: kerb damage; footway damage; severe damage is expected when Amey inappropriately use a planing machine on the footway.

    Cllr Lodge has offered to meet citizens, individually, and has stated that the felling survey questionnaire and Independent Tree Panel (ITP), set up by his predecessor (Cllr Fox), will continue. Between December 2015 and 13th May 2016, the ITP & questionnaire cost the Council £40,954.86. As Save Our Roadside Trees (SORT) has correctly pointed out, these things are entirely inappropriate and inadequate for addressing the matters that they have raised: use for that purpose certainly does not comply with current good practice.

    The survey and ITP will not address any of the matters raised by SORT, nor can they help ensure that policy & decision making is soundly based on available evidence and not unduly influenced by transitory or exaggerated opinions. Money could and should be used to commission competent arboricultural and highway engineering consultants to draught alternative highway engineering specifications, as SORT have repeatedly advised for over ten months. Their use would allow the Council to fulfil all duties imposed upon it by legislation and enable the safe long-term retention of many mature trees. The legislation only requires that the Council do that which is reasonable and proportionate. Compliance with current good practice, including a strategic approach to policy and decision making, with balanced assessments, undertaken by competent people, is the best way to achieve that.

    Previously, Amey and the Council have stated that, whatever they do, they will be criticised and that independent professionals are not bound by the same legislation, so there will always be a difference of opinion about what should happen. That is used as a reason to continue with a “business as usual” approach.

    With the exception of the Highways Act, all arboricultural professionals are bound by the same legislation. Current good practice guidance and recommendations, as detailed in the range of documents that SORT have quoted from and referenced in their letters, exist to help ensure that legal duties are fulfilled and that acts and omissions are adequate, balanced, proportionate and defendable.

    In the 2006/2007 independent survey report for highway trees, Elliott Consultancy Ltd advised the Council to have a tree strategy to guide and inform policy and decision makers. Had the Council bothered to honour its six year old policy commitment to have a tree strategy, it could have avoided being taken advantage of by PFI contractors and would have been able to evidence compliance with the range of current good practice they claim to comply with and aim to “build on”.

    It is time the Council did something more than just hear what people have to say. It is time they listened and put in place adequate steps to help ensure that their acts and omissions do comply with current, nationally recognised, widely accepted good practice.

    Cllr Lodge can start by honouring the Council’s commitment (as of 3rd February 2016) to be:

    “…open and transparent with the Sheffield public ensuring all relevant information is available in the public domain.”

    I look forward to seeing a response to the SORT letter (dated 29th January 2016).

    D.Long (Arboriculturist & Urban Forester)

    Source:
    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/comment/799#comment-799

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