Mediated Talks (ish!):
It has been quite a hectic week despite the pause in felling. You may have seen that STAG invited Sheffield Council, Amey, and South Yorkshire Police to open talks, having booked a room at Kenwood Hall, and an independent mediator, as well as the media. This was yesterday (Friday). In the event, Sheffield Council and Amey failed to turn up. So the event focused on the Police, and whether they were acting in a balanced and proportional way. Chris Rust, Paul Brooke asked some quite pointed questions, which were clearly not given full answers. See here.
Legal pursuit of Sheffield Council:
At the meeting, it was also announced that STAG are pursuing a number of legal angles to hold Sheffield Council to account. The most well developed one is a potential Judicial Review of the Council’s decision not to rescind the PFI contract, despite having the option to without any financial penalties, and despite repeated and ongoing serious health and safety breaches. In that regard, a “warning letter” was sent yesterday to Sheffield Council by solicitors acting on instruction from members of the campaign, ahead of seeking advice from barristers.
Sheffield Council’s 5 Year Tree Strategy “sham”:
In addition, in case you missed it, the Yorkshire Post ran an important article based on a Freedom of Information (FoI) request we had put in a while back. The answer to the FoI request proved that the Five Year Tree Strategy that lists the 14 supposedly free engineering solutions is a worthless piece of paper, as it is superseded by what is contained in the PFI contract, which Sheffield Council still insist is not in the public’s interest to reveal. This and other FoI questions have proved that at least 8 of the 14 engineering solutions are ruled out by the PFI contract and can’t be used.
All this shows that, despite the pause in felling, and despite the hint of positive noises, the campaign is not reducing the pressure on the Council. So that means all of us, and all of you, need to keep that pressure up.
Costly Police Operation:
Yorkshire Police has revealed it spent £47,000 on overtime in just one month as it sent dozens of extra officers to tree-felling operations in Sheffield, as we hear the only protester to be charged so far during that time has had his case against him dropped. The force made the decision to send additional officers to work following what it termed as “disorder and violence” in January after clashes between protesters and private security guards hired by council contractor Amey.
One of the most important forms of pressure is through the voting system in the local elections. Postal Votes began arriving through people’s letterboxes this week. That means that some people will already have begun to return cast votes. For those still considering, it essential that you really think carefully who you vote for. A lot of people vote for the same party locally as they do nationally, when they are two very different things. We strongly advise all that are reading this email to vote for the most pro tree candidate in your ward, e.g in Nether Edge and Sharrow ward is Alison Teal.
If you still need more convincing, see this really fantastic video which features Alison in a good chunk of it:
Like we said last week, it is vital that you also do your best to persuade your friends, families and neighbours to do the same. There is very strong evidence to show that many people are swayed to vote for people they think many other people are also voting for. So if there are posters in windows of Alison Teal, and they hear that other people are voting Alison Teal, they are more likely to vote for Alison Teal themselves. So please get persuading others!
Upcoming Events – “Let’s Hear It for Trees” – Sunday 22nd April:
In terms of upcoming events, just another reminder about the “Let’s Hear It for Trees” musical event this Sunday 22nd April. Booking tickets ahead is preferred but there will be some tickets available at the door.
Plus early notice of the next Save Nether Edge Trees Supporters Meeting (Public Meeting) on Monday 30th April at 8pm. This time at Kenwood Hall, in the Terrace Room, so note the change of location.
And that’s it for this week, enjoy the rest of your weekend.