Happy New Year and here’s to a year without mindless destruction of perfectly healthy trees, talking of which………
Upcoming joint inspections with Amey
As you will (or maybe will not!) know, there will be a process of joint inspections with Amey for a significant number of the currently threatened trees over the next few weeks.
It has now been agreed that these will begin on Tuesday 15th next week. The full text of the announcement from Paul Brooke (co-chair of STAG) is as follows:
“IMPORTANT STREET TREE Joint Investigation/assessment – DUE TO START TUESDAY 15th Jan
There are a total of 45 trees that, as per the Council’s new proposal, are listed for ‘reinvestigation’ and are due to have an on-site assessment/investigation to see if an engineering solution can be applied. There are a further 60 trees that they say they need to fell in 2019 and these will also be subject to an on-site assessment/investigation. There are some WW1 memorial trees that are now ‘retained’ but that will need some investigation work to identify the appropriate engineering solution.
We have been in discussion with Amey on the process as set out in the Joint Statement and we want to assure you of the following;
1. Amey will notify residents adjacent to any trees due for investigation with a hand delivered letter.
2. Amey have assembled a ‘specialist team’ to carry out investigation works in public and in liaison with independent highways engineers offering their support to STAG
3. NO decision or action to fell a tree will be taken during the investigation. The crew will not have a chipper on tow.
4. If the crew can use an engineering solution and repair the kerb/pavement to the standard required by the Council, they will complete the work that day or the following day depending on time available.
5. If they are not able to fix the problem they will discuss this with our engineer and we will produce a joint report setting out what Amey and what our engineer recommend.
6. If our Engineer is not available on the day Amey inspect the tree, Amey will remove the kerb/tarmac as required and leave the site exposed (protected by barriers) so that our engineer can assess when available.
7. If Amey conclude they cannot resolve the problem and after our engineer has assessed the site, Amey will make the site safe with a temporary repair and refer the tree to SCC for a decision. We are in discussion with SCC about how this information, including the CAVAT value and cost/benefit of works will be published.
8. People are encouraged to come and view works. STAG reps and local residents are able to enter the workzone if needed to photograph and view works when safe and by arrangement with the site crew. Safety wear can be provided.
It is our anticipation that more trees will be retained indefinitely as a result of this work and we want to support and assist the site crews to be creative and effective in delivering sensible solutions.
Planned work schedule:
Amey are not sure how long works will take as they will be learning as they go!
We think they will be able to do 1 or 2 trees per day. Look out for daily updates in the coloured Daily Alert Box on the main STAG Facebook page here:
TUESDAY 15th Jan 19 – CHATSWORTH Rd, S17 – 1 tree;
Then working in the following order;
CRAWFORD ROAD, S8 – 1 tree;
RYLE ROAD S7 – 1 tree;
STRUAN ROAD, S7 – 1 tree;
TAY STREET, S6 – 1 tree;
THORPE HOUSE AVENUE, S8 – 1 tree;
AGDEN ROAD, S7 – 2 trees;
UPPER ALBERT ROAD, S8 – 2 trees.
STAG Steering Group”
We encourage as many of you reading this as possible to turn up to show we haven’t gone away. But to do so peacefully and calmly as we believe that close to 100% of the trees will ultimately be saved indefinitely.
DEFRA consultation about street tree protection
Recently we made reference to the DEFRA consultation about street tree protection, here is a bit more supporting info for you
Firstly, whilst the results of a central government consultation can be ignored, they are a matter of public record. The aggregated and anonymised results are either published or can be accessed by freedom of information (FOI) request. So if 100% of responses said one thing, but DEFRA did completely the opposite, that would be on the public record, potentially embarrassing, and would have to be justified. So the consultation is not pointless at all, it is a genuine opportunity to share your views with DEFRA.
Secondly, if you’re not sure what to say when responding, here are a few pointers:
a) Consultation can be risky. Popular opinion is swayed by many other factors, including a general lack of knowledge about the positive benefits of living alongside street trees vs the inconveniences they might cause e.g. leaf litter. Therefore opinions offered through consultation may be far removed from evidence-based decisions.
b) The definition of what an acceptable consultation is needs to be defined, give specific evidence about the flaws of the unmarked brown envelope used in Sheffield’s ITP process, plus many other specific details
c) The reasons for deciding to fell need to be detailed and transparent – Saying a tree is “Damaging” is not sufficient. Why can’t simple virtually costless patch and repair solutions not be used
d) That in no circumstances should they be exempt from consulting – even with emergency fellings, councils should be forced to give transparent retrospective justification
e) We’re glad that there will be duty to report on all tree felling in relation to their street tree stock – Transparency is the greatest form of disinfectant
g) We’re glad there will be guidance on what constitutes a good Tree and Woodland Strategy
h) That the proposals still don’t go far enough. The current interpretation of the Forestry Act (1967) and how it relates to the Highways Act (1980) gives too much freedom to fell street trees without proper justification. Either that same legislation needs reinterpreting, or changing, to strengthen street tree protection.
Wouldn’t it be great if hundreds of you reading this email took the 20 minutes to respond in a similar way? I therefore strongly encourage you to contribute at: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/forestry/protecting-trees-and-woodlands/
Complaining about Amey
It has been a while since weI mentioned complaints about Amey. Back in April 2017, an organisation called Sheffield Residents Holding Amey to Account (SRHA) was established to make it easier for residents to make genuine complaints about the shoddy work of Amey in Sheffield. The reason we did this was because it was really hard to navigate the Sheffield Council website to find the way to complain. So the website http://srha.site was established as an easy to use form to make a complaint.
Since then, our estimate is that around 10% of all the complaints made about Amey in Sheffield have been directed through our site. Even as early as one month into the site being live, Amey workers were heard talking to themselves about how they’d better be more careful in their work as more complaints were being made by “tree huggers via their new website.”
So we’d just like to re-promote this site, and encourage you all to use it to make genuine complaints. They don’t have to be tree related, although some are (issues with saplings or tarmacking up to tree trunks). Many in the winter are about the dangerous slippy new surfaces. What about the fact that Amey seem to be only sweeping leaves once a year, or only after people complain? Are you happy about that? Or the constant no parking notices that never turn into actual street work? Or the shoddy new road surfaces on some roads? Or the surfaces that break up after less than a year? Or blocked drains? Or street light issues?
We walked down Montgomery Road last week, which is only about 450 metres long, and counted 20 separate issues worthy of complaining about. It is the same on all roads.
But are you actually complaining? Are you holding Amey to account for its shoddy work?
Making the initial complaint via http://srha.site takes less than 5 minutes. You’ll then need to keep on at Amey, when they eventually respond to you, which should be within 5 days. They may try to fob you off. Don’t give up, keep escalating the issue if you aren’t happy. Copy in your local Councillors or Cllr Lewis Dagnall if the issue is dragging on. Keep on at Amey and make sure your complaint is resolved to your satisfaction.
It’s Our City!
We’’ve been flagging the efforts of It’s Our City since it launched its petition in late August. Whilst not a street tree campaign, many of the leading members of the organisation came from the street tree campaign, and set the organisation up when they learned just how Sheffield Council worked (or didn’t work). In these quiet times (for some!) with no felling going on, we encourage all who have the time to get involved in It’s Our City. Signing the petition is easy, if you haven’t already, see the link below. But even better would be to get more involved and join in efforts to encourage more people to sign.
The petition is still live. If you haven’t yet signed the petition, then can we politely ask that if there is one thing you do this weekend, please sign it if you haven’t already! You can do so at the following weblink: