THE Fact that South Yorkshire Police and Sheffield Council are blaming each other for the towing away of residents’ cars prior to the controversial pre-dawn felling of trees shows the extent to which this whole saga has been mismanaged.
The context is this. Given how Sheffield promotes itself as Britain’s ‘outdoor city’ and the extent to which local residents do, in fact, value the environment, this issue always had the potential to polarise public opinion.
Yet, while even opponents of this scheme have accepted that there is a legitimate case for the felling of those dead and diseased trees which pose a genuine hazard to public health and safety if they are allowed to become unstable, the secrecy surrounding the planned work – more than 6,000 street trees are being replaced across Sheffield with smaller specimens – does seem extreme.
This is one issue where the council should have been working in collaboration with local residents. Instead the way the whole issue has been mishandled on leafy Rustlings Road, the location at the centre of this latest war of words, has been allowed to become a PR disaster which is detracting time – and money – away from the more substantive issues facing Sheffield. Surely it would be far prudent if the powers-that-be were focusing on economic growth, and new job opportunities, rather than this very local difficulty?