Update on Tree Talks

STAG Steering Group has been working with Cllr Lewis Dagnall on arrangements for the long awaited ‘talks’ and we can now confirm the details.

The Bishop of Sheffield will chair a process of talks that will be independently facilitated by an experienced professional mediator.

The first session will be over 2 days on the 27th and 28th September. Follow up sessions in October are planned and dates are to be confirmed.

Representatives for the Council, Amey and STAG will work to a framework set out by the independent facilitator.

With Cllr Dagnall we have jointly appointed Fiona Colquhoun from CEDR to design and manage a process of talks as the independent facilitator. We are confident in her independence and experience and she has explained that she will treat this in the same way as any other mediation between two parties in dispute. In preparation, Fiona has been to Sheffield twice, has met campaigners and been shown examples of the healthy trees currently planned for felling.

STAG have been clear on the broad aims that we have and the Council has stated that it will share new proposals on the remaining 306 trees originally scheduled for felling in the Core Investment Period and wants to discuss the future management of street trees. 
STAG has made it clear that it cannot make decisions or commitments on behalf of the large number of diverse campaigners and groups across Sheffield. They will make up their own minds, but we will make every effort to represent the concerns and doubts that campaigners will have.

The need for a process over a period of time is because following the 1st session, STAG will need to consult with a wider group of professional experts and with the membership of STAG local action groups. The STAG representatives are being finalised but we are pleased to confirm that David Elliott (from Trees for Cities) will be joining us. We have offers of support to provide us with professional expertise that we can call on when we know what proposals are being put forward by the Council.

Sharing information (please bear with us). The facilitator will require that all parties sign up to an agreement covering behaviour and confidentiality during the process. This is normal and to be expected. It may limit what information we can share on a public platform during the process and we anticipate that any press statements will be jointly agreed if all goes well.

There is the possibility of genuine change and for the evidence put forward by campaigners over many years to be listened to. Until we try we will not know.

– Paul Brooke, STAG Co-Chair.

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