Good news and bad for Sheffield’s street-trees

Good news and bad for Sheffield’s street-trees

At last some common-sense has prevailed and a review of the current phase of Sheffield’s street-tree management has saved 200 trees from the chop. From 301 assessed, 191 are to be saved. …. ‘We told you so perhaps…..’ Although this still means nearly 100 more to go in the current phase….

However, a year-long review by the Forestry Commission has described Sheffield’s street-tree management in absolutely scathing terms.

Sheffield street-tree work fell way short of acceptable practice July 2019_000463

Sheffield street-trees saved from the chop July 2019_000462

 

 

 

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7 Responses to Good news and bad for Sheffield’s street-trees

  1. Technotronic says:

    SCC Malfeasance & Incompetence?

    A letter to The Star, dated 31st July 2019 (also see:
    https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/politics/this-will-never-happen-again-council-leader-speaks-out-on-tree-felling-486047 )

    Dear Editor,

    For some time, Sheffield Tree Action Groups (STAG) have demanded an inquiry in to Sheffield City Council’s (SCC) acts and omissions, with good reason! Recently (The Star; 24th July 2019), the SCC Leader responsible – Cllr Julie Dore – said a repeat of the Sheffield street tree debacle “will never happen again in any city” because “there is no other local authority who is going to enter in to a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) highways contract”. On that basis, she rejected calls for a public inquiry, asserted that there was nothing to be learnt from an inquiry, and implied that one would represent a waste of public resources.

    However, SCC, with 100% support from the Labour councillors that hold the majority of Council seats, has relied on misrepresentation, lies, fear-mongering, smear, obfuscation and withholding access to vital, basic information, to cover for and distract attention from its wrongful acts and omissions. Apparently, all just a matter of selfish, party-political pride and cowardice – face-saving. Since Sheffield’s first tree group began (SORT), in May 2015, SCC has consistently misused and abused valuable, finite public resources. In the region of one million pounds has been spent by SCC in attempts to resist, oppose critics. SCC tactics have included wilful obfuscation, initiating and enhancing division within communities, directing a professional smear campaign against campaigners that challenge SCC, authorising contractors to bully and intimidate citizens, & wilfully misleading South Yorkshire Police.

    All this would indicate that at least the SCC leadership and executives are corrupt. In 2015, in response to a petition with over 10,000 signatures from SORT, and in defence of its decision to continue felling thousands of structurally sound mature street trees, at a meeting of full Council, SCC cited the Business Case that it had presented to the UK Department for Transport (DfT) in order to get funding for the £2.2 billion highway maintenance project.

    SCC informed that the Business Case was informed by the results and recommendations presented in a ‘report’ named ‘Sheffield City Highways Tree Survey 2006 – 2007’. In their defence, both documents were cited by SCC Cabinet Members at the meetings of full council that were held in February 2016 and February 2017, in response to petitions from STAG (with over 6,295 & 6,160 signatures, respectively). In fact, the ‘report’ is a PowerPoint slideshow. I was the first member of the public not involved in high court proceedings to be provided with a copy, in July 2016. Soon after, it was shared on the Stocksbridge Community Forum website. Elliott Consultancy Ltd presented the slideshow to SCC after an asset management firm, hired by SCC, had commissioned the survey of Sheffield’s street trees. When comparing the content of the slideshow with that of the Business Case and other SCC communications, it is clear that SCC either neglected to consult with its arboricultural Officers, or ignored them, or didn’t have any, or that SCC Officers lacked the combination of relevant education, training and experience that is necessary and expected of a reasonably skilled professional.

    It is clear that the DfT neglected to adequately examine the evidence base that SCC used to support the Business Case and also neglected to ensure that proposals represented a strategic approach that would accord with existing policy commitments and current good practice. Instead, the case is based on a ramped-up fear of liability and litigation. Both SCC and the DfT neglected to ensure that the SCC Highways PFI Client team (responsible for supervision, monitoring, auditing and enforcement of compliance with good practice) was budgeted for, adequately resourced and fit for purpose, as part of the £2.2bn project. As a result, SCC is largely reliant on its contractor self-monitoring and for provision of ‘customer services’ (complaints, enquiries and requests).

    To anybody that is prepared to examine the evidence, it should be clear that any failings with the PFI contract are insignificant in comparison to the range of severe negative effects of misrepresentations, gross incompetence and maladministration by SCC.

    Yours faithfully,

    D.Long (Arboriculturist & Urban Forester) – Upper Don, Sheffield

    NOTE:
    Originally, the above letter included an additional paragraph, immediately before the final paragraph. As follows:

    “Since 2013, I have provided sound advice to SCC Cabinet members, SCC Officers and others. SORT and STAG have spent over four years campaigning for SCC to honour its existing policy commitments to sustainable stewardship, ensuring that felling is ‘always a last resort’, and ‘best practice’. Campaigners, and myself, have provided SCC and its contractors with full detail of current good practice and yet SCC and its highways contractor (Amey) have consistently neglected to ensure their acts and omissions conform and represent a strategic, integrated, holistic, sustainable approach to tree population management – one that represents current good practice.”

    This additional paragraph was omitted from the submission, to improve the likelihood of publication.

    The following were included in the submission to The Star, for reference (to use a link, copy and paste the link to your address bar):

    https://1drv.ms/f/s!AsWguV74n6x7lRJfG1dgZIARbORF
    (Elliott’s ‘report’ & audio evidence)

    http://stocksbridgecommunity.org.archived.website/news/sheffield-city-council-announce-felling-17500-street-ttees.html
    (Amey self-monitoring)

    https://www.change.org/p/sheffield-city-council-streetsahead-sheffield-gov-uk-save-the-12-trees-on-rustlings-road-sheffield/u/18390599
    (Amey self-monitoring – A SORT PETITION UPDATE, dated 8th November 2016)

    https://1drv.ms/u/s!AsWguV74n6x7lUGsgoGZG10ixZga
    (An extract from an e-mail to a lead SORT participant, dated 4th February 2016, sent by the SCC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR for the ‘PLACE’ directorate [SIMON GREEN – then responsible for highways])

    https://1drv.ms/f/s!AsWguV74n6x7iQSITBgW8-dKPBJY
    (SCC Obfuscation & Lies)

    https://1drv.ms/f/s!AsWguV74n6x7ihgqz57x5ZVHQuKt
    (Secrecy & Accountability)

    https://1drv.ms/f/s!AsWguV74n6x7iU8uWaQ0jyMjkaIk
    (Cost & Enforcement)

    MINUTES OF SCC MEETINGS:
    http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/documents/g5932/Printed%20minutes%20Wednesday%2001-Jul-2015%2014.00%20Council.pdf?T=1
    (SCC ‘debate’ of the SORT petition)

    http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/documents/g6021/Printed%20minutes%20Wednesday%2003-Feb-2016%2014.00%20Council.pdf?T=1
    (SCC ‘debate’ of the Nether Edge petition)

    http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/documents/g6356/Printed%20minutes%20Wednesday%2001-Feb-2017%2014.00%20Council.pdf?T=1
    (SCC ‘debate’ of the Rivelin petition)

    In addition, see ‘SCC / AMEY: DECEIT & MISINFORMATION’ – my letter to Sheffield Telegraph, dated 15th November, 2016:
    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/important-update-from-deepa-shetty-on-behalf-of-stag/#comment-1415

    *****
    SOURCE:
    https://www.change.org/p/sheffield-city-council-streetsahead-sheffield-gov-uk-save-the-12-trees-on-rustlings-road-sheffield/u/24827128

  2. Technotronic says:

    ELECTIONS – EUROPE – CLIMATE – CANOPY COVER – AIR QUALITY & PUBLIC HEALTH

    (A Letter SENT TO ALL COUNCILLORS IN SHEFFIELD, SCC Executives and others, including The Yorkshire Post and The Star, dated 18th May 2019. I also received the letter and have permission to share it here)

    “With European elections about to begin, and after the appearance of Sheffield’s politicians on BBC Look North, on 16th May 2019 (Thursday evening)[1], and other Council spin [2], now is a good time to think about what Sheffield’s Labour Council have said about European policy commitments. Presented below* are a number of EXTRACTS FROM A LETTER THAT WAS ADDRESSED TO SHEFFIELD CITY COUNCIL’S CABINET MEMBER FOR ENVIRONMENT AND TRANSPORT, DATED 29th JANUARY, 2016 [3]. The letter was sent by Sheffield’s first tree group – Save Our Roadside Trees (SORT – formerly known as Save Our Rustlings Trees). It was DISTRIBUTED TO EVERY COUNCILLOR IN THE CITY by SCC’s John Turner (Democratic Services Legal and Governance Resources), on the 1st February, 2016, as a petition hand-out, to encourage informed “debate” at the meeting of full Council, on 3rd February, 2016 (‘debate’ of a petition from the Nether Edge tree group). THE LETTER PROMPTED SCC & AMEY TO PUBLISH A NEW, BACK-DATED ‘COMMERCIALLY SENSITIVE’ CONTRACT DOCUMENT – ‘Streets Ahead Five Year Tree Management Strategy (2012 – 2017)’ – published on the 2nd February, 2016 [4]. My comments will follow.

    * From PAGE 4:

    “SORT are very much aware of the Streets Ahead approach to application of the Precautionary Principle, as communicated by Streets Ahead to Cllr Nikki Bond, by e-mail, and subsequently forwarded to citizens by Cllr Bond, by e-mail, on 3rd October, 2015 (see Appendix 21):

    ‘…it is of note that Government summit commitments of this kind (i.e. Rio Earth Summit 1992) are not binding on local authorities unless and until they are incorporated into legislation.’

    In light of the above comment, we believe it is necessary to remind you of the wording of European Directive 2001/42/EC (legislation):

    ‘Having regard to the TREATY ESTABLISHING THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY…
    …(1) Article 174 of THE TREATY PROVIDES THAT COMMUNITY POLICY on the environment is to contribute to, inter alia, the preservation, protection and improvement of the quality of the environment, the protection of human health and the prudent and rational utilisation of natural resources and that it IS TO BE BASED ON THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE.

    ARTICLE 6 OF THE TREATY PROVIDES THAT ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION REQUIREMENTS ARE TO BE INTEGRATED INTO the definition of Community policies and ACTIVITIES, in particular with a view to promoting SUSTAINABLE development.’
    (European Parliament, Council of the European Union, 2001)”

    * From PAGE 58:

    “As stated in the SORT letter (Save Our Rustlings Trees, 2015):

    ‘The UK government has signed up to the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (THE ẢRHUS CONVENTION). ARTICLE 7 states:

    “EACH PARTY SHALL MAKE APPROPRIATE PRACTICAL AND/OR OTHER PROVISIONS FOR THE PUBLIC TO PARTICIPATE during the preparation of plans and programmes relating to the environment, WITHIN A TRANSPARENT AND FAIR FRAMEWORK, HAVING PROVIDED THE NECESSARY INFORMATION TO THE PUBLIC.”
    (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2008, p. 11)”

    * From PAGE 92:

    “In an e-mail dated 17th December, 2015 (Appendix 7), in response to an e-mail sent by SORT to Simon Green (dated 8th December, 2015), DAVID CAULFIELD STATED:

    ‘As has been advised in previous correspondence to the SORT group, AGREEMENTS IN EU CONVENTIONS ARE NOT BINDING UPON LOCAL AUTHORITIES UNLESS WRITTEN INTO STATUTE.’

    SORT ARE NOT AWARE OF ANY PREVIOUS CORRESPONDENCE FROM THE COUNCIL OR STREETS AHEAD THAT HAS PROVIDED ANY ADVICE ON THE RELEVANCE OF EU CONVENTIONS. SORT believe that Mr Caulfield’s comment is in response to our mention of the Ảrhus Convention, which was previously mentioned in the SORT letter (Save Our Rustlings Trees, 2015), and here, above, on pages 4 & 58. MR CAULFIELD CLEARLY SPEAKS FOR SIMON GREEN. To date, Streets Ahead have attempted to dismiss the relevance of the precautionary principle (see Appendix 10) and Mr Caulfield’s comments have attempted to dismiss the relevance of the Ảrhus Convention and The UK Forestry Standard, and, by implication, the definition of SUSTAINABLE URBAN FOREST MANAGEMENT.”

    It is of note that Mr CAULFIELD – AS SCC DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT SERVICES, WITH OVERALL RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIGHWAY TREES – LIED ABOUT FLEXI®-PAVE [a KBI UK Ltd product] having been used on the £2.2bn Streets Ahead highway maintenance project [5]. He, as Cllr Fox (SCC Labour Cabinet Member for Environment & Transport) had done before, wrongly and knowingly asserted that it had been used to enable the safe long-term retention of trees associated with footway &/or edging damage. Its use was ONE OF THE ‘ENGINEERING OPTIONS’ THAT, ACCORDING TO THE SCC HEAD OF HIGHWAY MAINTENANCE: “…COME AT NO EXTRA COST TO THE COUNCIL. So, the tax-payer does not pay…” [6].

    THE ‘ENGINEERING OPTIONS’ – first presented by Cllr Fox, on 1st July 2015, during ‘debate’ of the petition presented by the SAVE OUR ROADSIDE TREES group (a petition with OVER 10,000 SIGNATURES, collected in one month [7] – over 5,307 on paper) – WERE SUPPOSED TO ENSURE THAT HEALTHY, STRUCTURALLY SOUND, MATURE STREET TREES WOULD ONLY BE FELLED AS A “LAST RESORT”. However, THERE WAS A TARGET – TO FELL AT LEAST 5,000 TREES DURING THE FIRST FIVE YEARS of the 25yr PFI contract [8].

    NOW THE FIRST FIVE YEARS OF THE CONTRACT HAS PASSED, and the contractor has been seen to have achieved its ‘milestones’ and key performance indicator targets (>5,000 mature street trees felled), SCC HAS BEEN WILLING TO LIFT ITS BAN ON THE STREETS AHEAD CONTRACTOR (AMEY) USING THE ‘NO EXTRA COST’ ENGINEERING OPTIONS. TO BOOT, IT HAS WRONGLY PASSED THIS MOVE OFF AS THE FRUIT OF NEGOTIATIONS WITH SHEFFIELD TREE ACTION GROUPS (STAG), IN AN IMPRESSIVE PIECE OF SPIN [9].

    On 12th December 2018, SCC ADOPTED A TREE STRATEGY, ELEVEN YEARS AFTER AN INDEPENDENT CONSULTANCY ADVISED SCC TO HAVE A TREE STRATEGY, TO GUIDE AND INFORM POLICY AND DECISIONS THAT AFFECT HIGHWAY TREES.

    Arguably, NEGLECT TO HONOUR THE COMMITMENT SOONER HAS LED TO SCC SQUANDERING IN THE REGION OF £1M ON CONFLICT WITH COMMUNITIES AND THE LOSS OF AROUND 4,000 MATURE STREET TREES THAT WERE IN GOOD CONDITION, STRUCTURALLY SOUND AND COULD HAVE REMAINED FOR MANY YEARS, scrubbing pollutants from the air we breathe and providing a range of other valuable benefits to neighbourhoods and communities. [10]

    At least there is now a tree strategy, to guide and inform policy-makers and decision-makers. Whether it is adequate is another matter for debate, but THERE IS A COMMITMENT TO REVIEW THE STRATEGY ON AN ANNUAL BASIS and update following any significant change in legislation, policy or best practice. IN THEORY, THAT SHOULD HELP SAFEGUARD AGAINST FURTHER UNNECESSARY LOSSES AND SCC RELIANCE ON SECRECY, MISREPRESENTATION, FEAR-MONGERING, LIES AND DIVISION. The strategy should ensure SCC can fulfil its commitment to the SUSTAINABLE stewardship and use of Sheffield’s urban trees – the urban forest.

    You may be aware that the Forestry Commission has recently shut down its old website and spread the content across several new websites. A number of the hyperlinks in my earlier communications no longer work. Some online content has been lost and the options to search for specific information on Government websites are rather useless.

    Yours sincerely,

    D.Long (Arboriculturist & Urban Forester)”

    NOTES

    1)
    Video: https://1drv.ms/v/s!AsWguV74n6x7mwc5CALjhgxwgiwZ

    Also see the Radio 4 You & Yours programme (‘Apps keeping you healthy, Pollution in cars, Eco-friendly gardening’) that aired on the 8th of May, 2019:
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0004sj1 (scroll to the 32 min mark).

    2)
    • The Yorkshire Post (31st January 2019):
    https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/latest-news/sheffield-is-largest-city-in-uk-to-declare-climate-emergency-1-9568990

    Quote:
    “Coun Jack Scott, cabinet member for transport and development, said:

    ‘Global warming is one of the most serious issues of the 21st century. We are facing a climate catastrophe if we don’t act.’”
    (some of the last words he said, prior to suspension from his Cabinet position: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-47229138 )

    Earlier comment from Cllr Scott, as Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene, in 2014:

    “We do not presently have a strategy solely for trees. My view is that this wouldn’t be very helpful given they are an intrinsic part of the broader environment and ecology… In my view, current documents are sufficient.”

    • The Star – 7th May 2019:
    https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/politics/sheffield-council-reshuffle-leaders-with-new-focus-on-climate-change-38770

    • Cllr Lewis Dagnall (SCC Cabinet Member for Environment, Streetscene and Climate Change) – 15th of May 2019:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/392913244219104/permalink/1209555062554914/

    3)
    The SORT letter that was addressed to Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, dated 29th January, 2016:
    https://1drv.ms/f/s!AsWguV74n6x7hRa_tJ6oC09M-dDS

    4)
    The back-dated ‘commercially sensitive’ contract document – ‘Streets Ahead Five Year Tree Management Strategy (2012 – 2017)’ – that SCC published the day before SCC debate of the Nether Edge petition (> 6,295 signatures) can be accessed via the following link:
    https://1drv.ms/f/s!AsWguV74n6x7jCC1GnaYd58-NUJm

    Also see the following (includes responses to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act):

    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/streets_ahead_five_year_tree_man_2#comment-87127

    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/streets_ahead_five_year_tree_man_2#comment-87126

    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/streets_ahead_five_year_tree_man_2#comment-84657

    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/previous_versions_of_the_streets#incoming-938910

    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/previous_versions_of_the_streets#incoming-1188736

    Note – the back-dated document was presented to the High Court in 2016, as a contract document, in the case of R [Dillner] v Sheffield CC and Amey Hallam Highways Ltd (section 38):
    https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/dillner-v-scc-judgment.pdf

    5)
    For a full account of the lies and wilful obfuscation by Sheffield City Council, about the use of Flexi®-Pave [a KBI UK Ltd product] as an alternative highway surfacing product on the £2.2bn highway maintenance PFI project (to enable the long-term retention of mature street trees, as an alternative to felling trees associated with minor damage to footways and edging), see the following:

    https://1drv.ms/f/s!AsWguV74n6x7iQSITBgW8-dKPBJY

    http://stocksbridgecommunity.org.archived.website/comment/751.html#comment-751
    (also, read the subsequent postings, in particular:
    http://stocksbridgecommunity.org.archived.website/comment/831.html#comment-831 )

    http://stocksbridgecommunity.org.archived.website/news/sheffield-city-council-announce-felling-17500-street-ttees2679.html?page=1

    Cllr Alison Teal (Green Party) was dismissed from the Council chamber, apparently for refusing to withdraw a truthful comment that the SCC Cabinet Member for Environment & Transport (Labour) had wilfully misled and deceived Councillors and citizens about the use of Flexi®-Pave to enable the retention of street trees. The following links take you to reports provided by The Star newspaper, dated 5th & 6th of April 2017:
    https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:zwCc8wR5Gu4J:https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/latest/it-s-something-you-d-see-on-a-school-playground-sheffield-council-leader-criticises-opposition-for-mass-walk-out-1-8478720+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk&client=firefox-b-d

    https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:jd5QiQyfNdkJ:https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/latest/sheffield-opposition-councillors-walk-out-of-meeting-in-protest-1-8477699+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk&client=firefox-b-d

    6)
    A letter to The Star, Sheffield Telegraph, The Yorkshire Post & The Guardian, dated 6th December 2017 (How To Retain Memorial Trees):
    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2018/11/08/great-news-and-a-small-victory-in-the-battle-to-save-sheffields-street-trees/comment-page-1/#comment-2697

    The letter below was sent to The Star and the Yorkshire Post newspapers on 10th August 2017 (Trees & Hazard Management – an earlier version was published the same day: Safe long-term retention of existing trees):
    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2017/10/18/as-the-noose-tightens-on-sheffields-vernon-oak-its-sad-so-sad-its-a-sad-sad-situation-and-its-getting-more-and-more-absurd/#comment-1892

    7)
    Extracts from Cllr Fox’s speech (as SCC Cabinet Member For Environment & Transport) at the meeting of full Council, on 1st July, 2015 (SCC ‘debate’ of the 10,000 signature petition by SORT):
    http://stocksbridgecommunity.org.archived.website/comment/177.html#comment-177

    Audio can be accessed via the following link:
    https://1drv.ms/u/s!AsWguV74n6x7iShA_ziCsITMeMSP

    FYI, the SCC minutes of the Council meeting at which the SORT petition was ‘debated’ can be accessed via the following link:
    http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=154&MId=5932
    (Public questions about trees are on pages 8 & 9 of the PDF; the Council’s response can be found on pages 9-16)

    8)
    An extract from Jayne Dunn’s speech (as Councillor, Chair of Sheffield City Council Green Commission & former Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling & Streetscene) at the meeting of full Council, on 1st July, 2015 (SCC ‘debate’ of the 10,000 signature petition by SORT)
    A transcript from the meeting of full council that was held on 1st July 2015

    “At the beginning of the programme, it was stated 5,000 highway trees would be removed. These are trees that are dead and diseased and have got the six D’s, like Councillor Fox said. We only have to do this because we have to. We have a policy and it’s the right policy.”

    SOURCE:
    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2015/06/17/save-sheffields-street-trees-petition/comment-page-1/#comment-738

    Audio: https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2017/12/21/merry-christmas-to-all-our-tree-fellas/comment-page-1/#comment-3257

    Also see (Reference #4, above):
    https://1drv.ms/f/s!AsWguV74n6x7jCC1GnaYd58-NUJm

    The same figure (5,000) was also stated by the Deputy Leader Of Sheffield City Council (Cllr Leigh Bramall), on 3rd February 2016, during ‘debate’ of a petition (> 6,295 signatures) presented by the Nether Edge tree group.

    SCC minutes of the meeting at which the Nether Edge petition was ‘debated’ can be accessed via the following link:
    http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/documents/g6021/Printed%20minutes%20Wednesday%2003-Feb-2016%2014.00%20Council.pdf?T=1
    (Questions about trees are on pages 6 & 7 of the PDF. A redacted version of the petition, followed by the Council’s response, can be found on pages 18 to 24.)

    A quote from page 20 of the minutes:

    “Councillor Terry Fox, the Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, thanked the petitioners and campaigners. He stated…
    In an independent report during 2007*, 75 percent of street trees were assessed as being mature or over-mature with potentially catastrophic decline in the health and safety of street trees if a programme of replacement was not undertaken. The Streets Ahead contract was informed by this survey. AMEY HAD A FIVE YEAR TREE STRATEGY WITHIN THE CONTRACT. Information which had been PART OF A CONFIDENTIAL DOCUMENT had now been released as public information.”

    * See Sheffield City Council Misinformation & Deceit: a letter to Sheffield Telegraph, dated 15th November, 2016:
    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/important-update-from-deepa-shetty-on-behalf-of-stag/#comment-1415

    Also see Reference #4, above: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/streets_ahead_five_year_tree_man_2#comment-87126 )

    9)
    A letter to Sheffield Telegraph (Tree Massacre – A Few Facts), dated 10th April 2018:
    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2018/04/22/chris-packham-in-sheffield-to-see-for-himself/comment-page-1/#comment-2180

    The Yorkshire Post – 23rd October 2018:
    https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/our-region/south-yorkshire/sheffield/sheffield-trees-council-offers-up-new-plan-to-fell-fewer-street-trees-after-mediation-talks-with-campaigners-1-9410569

    The Yorkshire Post – 13th December 2018:
    https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/latest-news/sheffield-council-to-fell-fewer-street-trees-in-bid-to-resolve-bitter-dispute-1-9492030

    SCC Press Release – 13th December 2018:
    https://sheffieldnewsroom.co.uk/news/newapproachtostreettrees/

    The Sheffield Tree Action Groups (STAG) Press Release – 13th December 2018:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/392913244219104/permalink/1111234989053589/

    The SCC/STAG ‘Joint Statement’, issued following negotiations:
    https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/content/dam/sheffield/docs/roads-and-pavements/managingtrees/Joint%20position%20statement%20SCC,%20Amey%20&%20STAG.pdf

    Comment from the STAG Chairman (negotiator), following negotiations – 13th December 2018:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/392913244219104/permalink/1111281412382280/

    The Yorkshire Post – 15th December 2018:
    https://en-gb.facebook.com/groups/392913244219104/permalink/1113214875522267/

    The Yorkshire Post – 14th January 2019:
    https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/latest-news/sheffield-tree-campaigners-reject-council-s-compromise-plan-after-storm-of-feedback-1-9535817

    Also, see reference #6, above.

    10)
    A Letter to The Star & The Yorkshire Post (Mature Trees Save Lives – original, longer version), dated 20th February 2019:
    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2019/02/12/another-one-on-the-sheffield-street-trees-city-council-to-apologise/comment-page-1/#comment-3104

    A Letter to The Star & The Yorkshire Post (Mature Trees Save Lives – short version), dated 7th March 2019:
    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2019/03/04/go-global-student-opinions-thinking-global-acting-local/comment-page-1/#comment-3170

    A letter to The Star (Trees: Juggling Sustainability, Risk & Fear), dated 13th April 2018):
    https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2018/04/22/chris-packham-in-sheffield-to-see-for-himself/comment-page-1/#comment-2176

  3. Technotronic says:

    A LETTER TO THE STAR, SHEFFIELD TELEGRAPH AND THE YORKSHIRE POST (dated 10th October 2019)

    *****
    SCC MISREPRESENTATION & GREENWASH
    (a response to Mr Dillner’s letter to The Star – published in The Star on 5th October 2019)

    In Saturday’s Star, Mr Dillner explained how he had been mocked by the city’s leadership when he questioned the leader about her assertion that Sheffield is ‘the greenest city in Europe’ (1).

    To date, Sheffield City Council (SCC) has never explained what is meant by ‘greenest’, or what was measured, how and when. The assertion is usually accompanied by a guesstimate of the number of trees in Sheffield. SCC, its highway maintenance service provider (Amey) and Friends Of The Earth use these assertions to defend SCC’s felling of thousands of mature street trees (2). They wrongfully imply that the negative impacts of mass felling are insignificant and not worth bothering about. They wrongfully assert that substitution with saplings, particularly by woodland planting, is sufficient to offset the depletion of canopy cover along streets, and the range of valuable, beneficial ecosystem services it affords to neighbourhoods and communities.

    However, after years of campaigning by the Save Our Roadside Trees group (SORT), and the efforts of Sheffield Tree Action Groups (STAG, founded by Mr Dillner), SCC commissioned assessments of city-wide canopy cover and the value of a range of associated eco-system service benefits. ‘i-Tree Eco’ assessments were completed in autumn 2017 (3).

    On 5th December 2018, two years after public consultation (4), SCC published ‘A Vision for Sheffield’s Urban and Rural Forest’ – ‘Sheffield Trees and Woodlands Strategy 2018-2033’ – Sheffield’s first adopted tree strategy (3). Although the i-Tree Report has not been published, some of the results are shared in the tree strategy. It informs: “THE TOTAL TREE COVER OF SHEFFIELD IS… 21.6% IN THE URBAN AREA OF THE CITY” (5). That confirms that Sheffield still has sufficient urban canopy cover for the urban tree population to be categorised as an ‘Urban Forest’ by government (6). Street trees are a major component of the urban forest, as acknowledged in a range of documents that provide good practice guidance and recommendations to national & local government. For example, see publications by the Trees And Design Action Group (7), Forestry Commission (FC) (8), and those of the body it established in 2014 to “take forward the case for urban forestry in England’s towns and cities and spread good practice” – the Urban Forestry and Woodlands Advisory Committee (FWAC) Network (9). In October 2016, the United Nations published ‘FAO Forestry Paper 178: Guidelines on urban and peri-urban forestry’, which clearly identifies “street trees” as part of the urban forest and states: “URBAN FORESTS ARE THE BACKBONE OF THE GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE” (10).

    In March 2017 the SCC Executive Director for the “Place” portfolio – LARAINE MANLEY – published a document called “Growing Sustainably: A Bold Plan For A Sustainable Sheffield” (11), in response to the final report of the SCC Green Commission that was published in February 2016 (12). Ms Manley is responsible for highways. Along with John MOTHERSOLE (SCC Chief Executive), and her predecessor (Simon GREEN), Ms Manley was one of five people on the SCC ‘Highway Maintenance PFI Project Board’ that was responsible for making and presenting the ‘Business Case’ for the £2.2bn highway maintenance project to the Department for Transport (13). It was that case that WRONGLY asserted that “…a large proportion of the mature and over-mature trees (75% OF THE STOCK) ARE NOW READY FOR REPLACEMENT”: 25,900 TREES (14). That may explain why Manley’s ‘bold plan’ neglects to make any mention whatsoever of Sheffield’s urban forest, trees, vegetation, or green infrastructure. Despite that, SCC ‘approved’ Manley’s document “as a new Sustainability strategy for Sheffield”.

    SCC would be wise to take a look at the definition of sustainable forestry, provided in ‘The UK Forestry Standard:THE GOVERNMENTS’ APPROACH TO SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT’ (6). Sustainable urban forestry is defined as:

    “the stewardship and use of forests and forest lands in a way, and at a rate, that MAINTAINS their biodiversity… and their potential to fulfil, NOW and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local…levels.”

    D.Long (Arboriculturist & Urban Forester) – Upper Don, Sheffield

    Note:
    The above letter arrived in my inbox today (10th October 2019). The author has given permission for me to post it here, in its entirety, for your benefit. The references will be posted separately, below.

  4. Technotronic says:

    EUROPEAN ELECTIONS & YORKSHIRE’S INCOMPETENT POLITICIANS

    “(Selected extracts from my letter to The Star, Sheffield Telegraph and The Yorkshire Post, dated 22nd May 2019)

    […]
    When it comes to public enquiries and complaints about a £2.2bn highway maintenance project (the ‘Streets Ahead’ PFI contract) that is largely paid for by taxpayers, and negatively affects communities and environmental quality in every part of the city, SHEFFIELD’S LABOUR POLITICIANS – including MPs – HAVE OPTED TO RESORT TO RELIANCE ON SECRECY, MISREPRESENTATION, SMEAR, OBFUSCATION, FEAR-MONGERING, LIES, DIVISION AND LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY, rather than adopt and implement a planned, systematic and integrated strategic approach that would foster, maintain and enhance trust, credibility and support.

    Through reliance on a ‘Leader and Cabinet Executive’ model of government that only gives voice to 12% of elected Councillors (all from the same political party), and without effective means penalising wrongdoing by Councillors, and in the absence of a strategy to guide and inform policy and decision-makers, IN SHEFFIELD, THERE IS NOTHING TO HELP ENSURE THAT ACTS AND OMISSIONS ARE, BALANCED, PROPORTIONATE, ADEQUATE, AUDITABLE, DEFENDABLE, AND NOT UNDULY INFLUENCED BY TRANSITORY OR EXAGGERATED OPINIONS, whether formed by the media or vested interests.

    In 1998, the UK government signed up to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (THE ẢRHUS CONVENTION). Article 7 states:

    “Each Party SHALL make APPROPRIATE practical and/or other provisions for the public to participate DURING THE PREPARATION OF PLANS AND PROGRAMMES RELATING TO THE ENVIRONMENT, within a transparent and fair framework, having PROVIDED the NECESSARY information to the public.”

    In the case of R (Dillner) v Sheffield CC and Amey Hallam Highways Ltd (2016)*, Sheffield’s politicians went to the High Court of Justice and successfully argued that these commitments did not apply to all projects – particularly, that there was no statutory duty to consult with communities about highway project proposals and plans. To quote from SECTION 191 of the approved judgement:

    “WHILE CERTAIN SOCIETIES HAVE OPERATED A SYSTEM OF DECISION MAKING WHEREBY CITIZENS WERE EXPECTED TO PARTICIPATE not just in elections but in the making of the decisions, the relevant POLITICAL BODIES IN UNITED KINGDOM DO NOT HAVE SUCH A SYSTEM…

    In England and Wales, a Council such as Sheffield is a creature of statute, with its members elected at elections. While a Council can elect to invite participation from members of the public in meetings or otherwise, THERE IS NO OVERARCHING RIGHT OF THOSE RESIDENTS of a City/Borough/County/District WHO ARE NOT MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL TO PARTICIPATE IN DECISION MAKING.”

    Commenting on the £2.2bn project, SECTION 195 of the judgement states:

    “…THE ONLY PERSON OR BODY WITHIN THE COUNCIL WITH THE POWER TO TAKE ACTIONS OR MAKE DECISIONS WITH REGARD TO THE WORKS WAS THE CABINET MEMBER responsible. In particular the full Council had no power to do so.”

    However, at SECTION 200, commenting on a meeting of full Council at which a petition with over 10,000 signatures was presented by Sheffield’s first tree group (Save Our Rustlings Trees) and ‘debated’ by Councillors, THE JUDGE WROTE:

    “The full Council meeting of 1st July 2015 is important. I do not consider that WHAT IS SAID BY THE RELEVANT CABINET MEMBER DURING A DISCUSSION CAN NECESSARILY BIND THE COUNCIL.”

    At SECTION 197, the Judge states:

    “While I well understand that some local residents would have wanted to be consulted on the proposals, THERE WAS NO DUTY OF CONSULTATION BEFORE SCC ENTERED INTO THE STREETS AHEAD CONTRACT”.

    It will be interesting to see whether or not the Government bothers to introduce legislation to address these social injustices before BREXIT. At present, England’s legislation does not make adequate provision to honour THE TREATY ESTABLISHING THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY. To quote from European Directive 2001/42/EC:

    “Article 174 of the Treaty provides that COMMUNITY POLICY ON THE ENVIRONMENT IS to contribute to, inter alia, the preservation, protection and improvement of the quality of the environment, the protection of human health and the prudent and rational utilisation of natural resources and that it is TO BE BASED ON THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE.”

    The UK Government agreed to adopt and apply the precautionary principle, by its agreement to Agenda 21 at the Earth Summit meeting at Rio, in 1992, which states:

    “Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, LACK OF FULL SCIENTIFIC CERTAINTY SHALL NOT BE USED AS A REASON FOR POSTPONING COST-EFFECTIVE MEASURES TO PREVENT ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION.”

    Sheffield City Council (SCC) neglected to do adequate assessments prior to taking decisions to fell thousands of healthy, structurally sound, mature street trees. It failed to assess the likely impact of felling proposals on highway tree canopy cover and the monetary value of Sheffield’s natural capital assets (street trees) and associated ecosystem service benefits. SCC neglected to do adequate cost:benefit analyses and balanced risk assessments. To justify and defend its acts and omissions, in October 2015, SHEFFIELD CITY COUNCIL ISSUED A WRITTEN COMMUNICATION. IT STATED:

    “…it is of note that GOVERNMENT SUMMIT COMMITMENTS of this kind (i.e. Rio Earth Summit 1992) ARE NOT BINDING ON LOCAL AUTHORITIES UNLESS AND UNTIL THEY ARE INCORPORATED INTO LEGISLATION.”

    When BREXIT has happened, IT WILL BE INTERESTING TO SEE WHETHER OR NOT THE GOVERNMENT REALLY DOES LIVE UP TO ITS STATED COMMITMENT TO ENSURE THAT, with regard to the environmental principles, accountability and governance, BOTH EXISTING PROTECTIONS AND NEW AMBITIONS ARE UNDERPINNED BY A STRONG STATUTORY FOUNDATION.

    The state of current national legislation indicates that new legislation will be weak and inadequate, and that environmental principles and guidance will be set aside and ignored, as they have been and continue to be in Sheffield. SUSTAINABILITY SEEMS AS FAR FROM REACH AS IT HAS EVER BEEN.
    […]
    D.Long (Arboriculturist and Urban Forester), Sheffield”

    * https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/dillner-v-scc-judgment.pdf

    Also see:
    https://1drv.ms/f/s!AsWguV74n6x7jCC1GnaYd58-NUJm

    *****
    SOURCE:
    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/statement_to_the_media_respondin#comment-89140

  5. Technotronic says:

    A copy of the above letter (‘SCC MISREPRESENTATION & GREENWASH’), dated 10th October 2019* can be accessed in PDF format via the following link (references included):

    https://1drv.ms/f/s!AsWguV74n6x7og9hWPVfx1NpZMmb

    * https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.com/2019/07/30/good-news-and-bad-for-sheffields-street-trees/comment-page-1/#comment-3799

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