#saveshefftrees update Friday 16th March

Daily News Round-up – March 16th 2018

What a day of waiting, highs, lows, Samba, Jarvis Cocker, BBC Radio Four, BBC Radio Two and, sadly, the loss of a Healthy Lime Tree.
Quote of the Day: Jarvis Cocker on Radio 4 early this morning,
“…There are the 6 D’s for the Sheffield Trees now there’s a 7th … DAFT”

7:00 Olive Grove lots of checks done on vehicles
Then yawn for over three hours while we all held our breath…metaphorically…until,

10:15 All in Bramall Lane Petrol Station taking it in turns to go into Subway (new Police Canteen?)
There were:
8 Police riot vans,
2 normal Police cars,
2 Enterprise Rental vans with police inside them,
3 unmarked cars
1 Amey car
Servoca Private Security (the yellow jackets ) joined them.
Too much DayGlo HiViz…hope the Petrol Station had sunglasses on special offer this morning.

10:25 Convoy spotted at Brook Hill Roundabout

10:39 Heras Barriers go up round tree at 58 Sackville Road, Crookes
Despite the Independent Tree Panel recommending this healthy tree should be saved by simply putting in a half kerb, SCC went ahead and approved felling.
Does the 17,500 contractual obligation have anything to do with this?
Also interesting that a person at Sackville Road reports that the road and pavement have already been “upgraded”

11:16 Gennel allowing Public access to Sackville Road completely blocked by Heras Barriers and Servoca Yellow Jackets. We have the pictures.

11:35 Sheffield University Samba Band arrives, Rhythm, dancing, grinning and high spirits break out and beat back the sound of the chainsaws. Thank you Samba Band!

12.00 BBC Radio Two Jeremy Vine discusses Sheffield’s Street Trees. Do listen on playback.
Paul Brooke spoke brilliantly, despite the connection being lost once.
Brian Lodge also spoke.
JV said they had about a trees’ worth of texts, tweets and comments about our trees.
We could hear the samba band in the back ground, and the chainsaws, as a reporter on Sackville Road described the scene as #58 was destroyed.

13:25 Goodbye healthy Lime at #58 Sackville Road, Crookes, now just a stump and a pile of logs.
The other targeted tree on Sackville Road has a bird’s nest in it and so cannot be touched.
Good timing birds, have fun looking after those eggs.

14:08 Peaceful Tree Protectors do the Sheffield Shuffle s-l-o-w-l-y up the road for 10 minutes, allowed by the police.

22:00 Those lucky enough to get tickets, see you at the Sheffield City Hall Tree Gig.

WE ARE NOT GOING AWAY….and possibly not sleeping tonight…

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Sheffield trees: Jarvis Cocker brands felling ‘crazy’ – BBC News

Musician Jarvis Cocker has described the felling of thousands of trees in his home city of Sheffield as “crazy”.

The former Pulp frontman is joining singer-songwriter Richard Hawley to DJ at an event raising funds for the Sheffield Tree Action Group.

The group is opposing Sheffield City Council’s plan to fell “dangerous” trees and replace them with new ones.

“They’re trying to get rid of about half the trees on the streets, which is kind of crazy,” Cocker said.

“You can’t really replace trees can you? I mean you’re replacing them with a little sapling that is going to take at least 40 years to reach maturity.

“We’ve all seen that thing where the pavement is all buckling, but I don’t think that is happening in half the cases of the street trees in Sheffield.

“I think that is what people are protesting about. It’s the scale of which this is going on.”

Tree in Sheffield

About 5,500 trees have been felled in Sheffield since 2012, with the city council saying the tree removal is part of its £2bn Streets Ahead project, aimed at improving roads and footpaths in the city.

The council, which is planting new trees after removing existing ones, insists the trees earmarked for felling are either “dangerous, dead, diseased, dying, damaging or discriminatory”.

However, many of the trees classed by the council as “damaging” or “discriminatory” are healthy specimens which campaigners say should be saved. They say that alterations should be made to surrounding pavements and roads instead.

The event “Get Off Our Tree!” is being held on Friday at Sheffield City Hall. Also playing are local artists The Everly Pregnant Brothers, lead singer of Reverend and the Makers, Nick McClure, and former Pulp drummer Nick Banks.

Tree felling in Sheffield

Cocker – who released a song called The Trees with Pulp in 2001 – said: “People are up in arms about it.

“Sheffield, I think it still has got memories of being an industrial city, trees are important, trees do produce the air that keeps us alive.”

He refused to be drawn when questioned on the BBC Today programme about whether he would become directly involved in protests.

He said he was taking part “to raise awareness and also to help people who are being punished for it” by raising money to help cover court costs of those prosecuted.

The council said it supported peaceful protest but “unlawful behaviour displayed by some” protesters had been in “blatant breach of a High Court injunction and cannot be tolerated”.

A spokesman added: “Two individuals have already been given suspended prison sentences for breaching the injunction, along with costs totalling £27,000 owed to the council, and so we hope that any money raised through fundraising events in support of the campaign will go towards the money which is rightfully owed to the taxpayers of Sheffield.”


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Lord Scriven demands answers from South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable over city’s tree-felling works

Former Sheffield Council leader Paul Scriven has written back to the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police and warned him he was willing to refer him to the police complaints watchdog over the force’s handling of the controversial tree felling programme.
Lord Scriven, now a Lib Dem peer, said Stephen Watson had been ‘vague’ in his reply to an initial letter he sent last week and demanded answers to 12 questions, including whether Mr Watson had actually been to any of the sites where Sheffield Council contractor Amey are replacing trees as part of its £2.2 billion highway improvement contract

He said Mr Watson’s letter raised ‘more questions than answers’ and said he would continue holding him to account ‘even if it meant referring him to the Independent Office for Police Conduct and asking questions in parliament and raising the issue with Home Office ministers’.

Lord Scriven raised 12 points in his latest letter, which he posted on his Twitter feed

They include:

– Had Mr Watson been to a tree felling site and seen what is happening?

– How many complaints have been received against both Amey and protesters and how many were being investigated?

– How many complaints have been made against the police?

– Why have no privacy impact assessments been carried out?

– Who, other than South Yorkshire Police, had seen live streams of the protests sent back to the force’s command control centre?

– How many Sheffield City Council staff are located at South Yorkshire Police during tree felling protests?

– How many meetings have been held with Sheffield Tree Action Groups?

– What does Mr Watson mean by a ‘deterioration in the atmosphere and an increase in criminal behaviour at tree felling protests’?

– How do police decide how many police officers to deploy to tree felling protests?

– What information is exchanged between South Yorkshire Police and/or Sheffield City Council around tree felling?

– Has anyone requested police presence at each incident of tree felling, and, if so, who made the request?

– Why didn’t officers intervene when protesters claimed security staff used undue force? Lord Scriven said he awaited ‘with interest, more detailed replies’ to the questions


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Toxic Tea and Other Tales From an English Tree War – The New York Times


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Jared O’Mara becomes third Sheffield MP in 24 hours to demand halt to tree-felling work

Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O’Mara has become the third city-based MP within 24 hours to call for a halt to controversial tree-felling work by Sheffield Council.

In a strongly-worded statement sent to The Yorkshire Post this afternoon, Mr O’Mara, who was elected as a Labour candidate last year but is currently suspended from the party pending an investigation into offensive online comments made in his past, said he has seen “innumerable healthy trees which … have been unnecessarily and inexplicably earmarked for felling” in his constituency.

He said Sheffield Council should order an immediate halt to the tree-felling programme and begin talks with residents, following similar comments made by Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh and Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield yesterday.

It comes after it was revealed the council’s highways contract with Amey which started in 2012 contains a target to fell 17,500 street trees in the city and replace them with saplings by the end of its 25-year term.

In recent weeks, dozens of police officers and private security guards have been attending tree-felling operations in Sheffield, with heated scenes and several arrests of protesters made.

Mr O’Mara said today: “Over the past few weeks, I have been speaking to a large number of my constituents and keeping abreast of recent developments with Sheffield City Council’s tree-felling programme. Following on from this I am dismayed to learn that there are provisions in the council’s contract with Amey which will allow up to 17,500 trees to
be felled (half of the city’s street based stock) seemingly at the mere whim of a private company.

“I have made no secret of my distaste for the Tree Felling Programme previously and demonstrated this by passing on the protesters’ petition in opposition to it to Jeremy Corbyn last October.

“In addition, I have visited various sites across Hallam and have seen with my own eyes that innumerable healthy trees, which are neither “dangerous, dying, diseased, damaged, dead or discriminatory” (the council’s criteria for removal) have been unnecessarily and inexplicably earmarked for felling

“Furthermore, I have spoken to a sizeable number of my constituents who have expertise in engineering and other relevant disciplines related to the situation at hand. As such, I am calling on the council to immediately cease their tree felling programme in our constituency and speak to these experts and all other residents and campaigners in conjunction with the existing members of the Independent Tree Panel to open an extensive review on a case by case, tree by tree basis to find alternative and affordable engineering solutions.

“The aim being that as many of the remaining trees as possible (hopefully all of them) scheduled for felling can be saved whilst not impeding the council’s road repairing and relaying programme.

“I would be delighted to help with the organisation of such a review and arrange the process and meetings between residents, experts, campaigners, Amey and the Council whereby a mutually agreeable and peaceful solution can be found in each specific instance that is not only affordable for the council but also environmentally friendly.

“Lastly, I would also like to place on record my support of our Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire, Dr Alan Billings, in his view that our Police should not need to be involved in any further protests. This is a civil matter and not a criminal matter and there need not be any more protests in any case if all parties can meet and an extensive review can be undertaken.”

The council says the trees are either dead, dying, diseased, dangerous or damaging the highway. But campaigners argue felling is being carried out for contractual rather than environmental or health and safety reasons.

Sheffield Council insist the 17,500 figure contained in the contract is not a target and it estimates 10,000 trees will be removed and replaced with saplings over the course of the contract.


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Sheffield MPs urge council to pause tree felling | UK news | The Guardian


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#saveshefftrees update Monday 12th March –

Another tough week or so on the streets. But despite this, we believe the campaign has never been at a stronger point. Hopefully in reading this email you’ll see why.

The felling crews were out for four out of five days last week. Again with a massive police presence, usually around 30 police at any one point in time. Plus all the usual private security, evidence gatherers, and felling crew. Three roads were targeted. Abbeydale Park Rise (in Dore) on Monday and Friday, Thornsett Road on Tuesday, and Kenwood Road on Thursday. For their efforts, they managed to fell three trees (one on Abbeydale Park Rise, two on Kenwood Road), and take a third of the canopy off a further tree, on Thornsett Road.

All of us were understandably upset on Kenwood Road in particular on Thursday. Hearing the chainsaws and seeing the two lovely Lime trees coming down was heartbreaking. But three and a third trees in a week is grindingly slow progress. There are still 159 threatened trees in Nether Edge and Carter Knowle, and a further 150ish across the rest of the city. At their current rate of progress, that’s around another 100 weeks of felling attempts. Amey, the Police and virtually everyone else knows this. But the Council so far refuse to accept it, wanting to crush the campaign that has caused them so much embarrassment.

More arrests were made last week, including many de-arrests. But it is hard to keep up with the number. Particularly given many of the arrests are based on completely fabricated and/or trumped up charges which are dropped later.

The crazy situation is drawing heavy national media attention. The Daily Mail ran a large article, and BBC investigative journalists have been filming events. The Yorkshire Post has always been very supportive of the campaign and has reported most days. Even the Sheffield Star, which struggles to criticise the Council because of all the advertising funding it receives from them, had a front page headline criticising the current situation.

The situation has again led to the Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Billings, to say that the situation requires a political solution. It is clear that, whilst the Police are working closely with Amey and Sheffield Council, they are very uncomfortable about this. All of you reading this email should write to the Police and complain about the situation.

Also, after 14 months, the Information Commissioner forced Sheffield Council to release Schedule 2 of the PFI contract in a mostly un-redacted form. This freedom of information request was made in January 2017, and only now has the information we wanted been revealed, thanks to the Information Commissioner’s intervention. Schedule 2 includes all of the targets and performance metrics that Amey are required to meet. It confirms (something we always suspected) that there is a target for perfectly straight kerb lines, with no deviations. This despite it NOT being a legal requirement in Highways Act legislation. In other words, an unnecessary target about straight kerb lines is being used to justify the removal of between 33% and 50% of the already felled and threatened trees.

Another one of the targets revealed in Schedule 2 is that 17,500 street trees will be felled by the end of the 25 year contract. So that’s another 11,800 trees more felled above the ones already felled. In other words, 50% of all Sheffield’s street trees will have been felled by the end of the contract. The Council have said repeatedly on the record that there is no tree felling numbers target, including in court. Clearly the Council have been brazenly lying!

Unfortunately it was unlucky thirteen today for the beautiful tree outside the Bridge Club on Thornsett Road, Netheredge.

Despite having members who support the tree campaign, including the Rustlings Road two, the Bridge Club Committee decided to deny Garden Permission, which could possibly have saved the tree.

One person was arrested while peacefully defending the tree. Over 50 Tree Defenders were spread out around the very large workzone; they joined in chanting led by two people with heroically loud voices.
The attack started shortly after 10am and finished at 5:45pm with tree protestors slow walking in front of the convoy of Acorn trucks and herras barriers as they left. There were fewer police in attendance today, 12 at mid day, plus the CCTV van. Usual number (30) of Yellow jackets plus the 3 man Acorn Arb team to climb and chop.

Do listen on catch up to Brian Lodge on this mornings’ Toby Foster at Breakfast – BBC Radio Sheffield.

I love a comedy turn in the morning.

Eyes on the roads all areas tomorrow.
We are not going away.

Thanks as always for your continued support

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