STAG Steering Group meeting notes 1st September 2020

1. Joint Investigations

1.1 At the last Steering Group meeting on 11th August there was a discussion about the need to push SCC to deal with the trees already investigated in order to formally announce the ones we know are saved and to set up a meeting about the ones Amey still wanted to fell.

1.2 Christine reported back that she has recently auctioned this and is awaiting a response from Amey.

1.3 Paul S asked whether we had had any news about when the final 40 or so joint investigations would re-start, given the “holiday pause” after 8th August. Helen Kemp had asked Amey to give us a schedule, but had not heard back.

2. Further Trees Identified for Felling

2.1 Back in January, Amey had sent STAG a list of around 200 dead, dying and diseased trees that they wanted to fell in 2020. STAG Steering Group members had visited nearly all of these, accepted most, and challenged roughly 20 seeking more information.

2.2  Amey hadn’t sent us this extra information, even though they thought they had and were blaming STAG for the hold up! However we are back on track now. The majority of the ones we challenged have been reprieved. For a few more the additional information was sufficient to justify felling.

2.3 There are six left. Helen Kemp and Paul S are meeting Amey tomorrow to inspect the three in the SNET area. It wasn’t fully clear what was happening with the other three, but Helen is on top of it.

3. Street Tree Strategy Partnership Group

3.1 Paul S updated Steering Group members on the work in the Street Tree Strategy Partnership Group.

3.2 Street Tree Wardens – Paul S updated everyone about how 39 people volunteered by the deadline. Mainly in South and West Sheffield, but actually across most of the city. Darren Butt is setting up a meeting with Liz Ballard and Paul S to discuss next steps, in terms of a training session via videoconference. Also about how we allocate geographic areas.

3.3 Various members of Steering Group noted that the training would ideally include the topic of contractors working around street trees, including what constitutes good and bad practice, and what to do when bad practice is spotted.

3.4 Additional Street Tree Planting – Paul S updated everyone about the two schemes, one on Abbeydale Road, which has reached 20% of its target £15,000 crowdfunding. The other being the SNET scheme to use up our remaining funds on the purchase of 9 additional trees.

3.5 Testing the felling approval process – Christine and Paul S updated colleagues on how SCC had shared two new Amey felling recommendations with the Strategy Partnership Group, to test the new process for approving (or otherwise) Amey felling recommendations. I noted how they were good examples. One of Ash Dieback, where I wasn’t challenging the felling, but was requesting a high stump be left for habitat value. The other being a potentially spurious subsidence claim from a household near a tree, which Amey had barely scrutinised. The debate at the next meeting is likely to be “interesting.”

4. Tree Disease Conference

4.1 Caroline Millman shared her detailed proposal with Heather, Phil and Paul S just prior to the meeting but she wasn’t able to attend.

4.2 A brief discussion was held about the main update, that the conference was going to be online, and hopefully in October or November.

5. Reformation of STAG

5.1 Sixteen people attended the Video Conference that Shelley organised. She reported that it achieved what had been aimed for, and there was now a small group of people taking forward the establishment of the successor group to STAG.

5.2 Christine is typing up notes of this Video Conference, and will share them with STAG Steering Group.

5.3 The constitution for the new group is being drafted by Chris Rust, and that will also be shared with STAG Steering Group members for comment.

5.4 The constitution is necessary for a STAG Bank Account to be set up.

6. Allegations of poisoning of street trees

6.1 This was a follow on from a STAG Steering Group Facebook post that Ann Anderson had raised. Residents in Dore and Totley had spotted a developer possibly pouring chemicals around some street trees that they wanted removing in relation to their housing development which SCC hadn’t approved.

6.2 Christine is asking whether SCC can move to prosecute as an example. There has been an issue with this in the past where SCC have not done anything to pursue prosecutions. This has left developers and residents with a clear incentive to damage and poison trees, in full knowledge that there would be no consequences.

6.3 Christine is also trying to work on the wider issue. It appears that Amey Tree Officers have come across other examples of this across the city, with evidence, but aren’t being supported by Amey management or SCC to progress any prosecutions.

7. Reporting dead/dying saplings

7.1 Shelley raised this subject. She was using the SRHA complaints website, but wasn’t sure whether other people had previously reported the same dead trees, nor whether Amey were doing anything about the reports she raised. Paul S commented that Amey were taking in the reports, and that these and the many trees I’d also reported dead and diseased would likely be on the felling list for 2021.

7.2 Shelley raised the wider point about whether more could be done to allow these to be shown on an interactive map or something similar. There is a wider discussion ongoing in the Street Tree Strategy Partnership Group about making Amey’s tree data transparent for all on a map.

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Posted in Minutes from official meetings

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Crowdfunder: street trees legal fund

We are currently collecting to support the small number of campaigners who are facing court costs after cases brought by Sheffield City Council.

Heartwood TiCL trail

Walk the Heartwood Trail and find Robert Macfarlane’s beautiful charms against harm hung from some of Sheffield’s threatened Street Trees. Designed by Jackie Morris.

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