1. Street Tree Strategy Implementation Group Update
1.1 Christine and Paul S gave an update on progress.
1.2 Paul S updated about the additional planting of trees in Nether Edge application. 40 locations have been suggested to Amey, and 20 have been approved with no issues. Of the 20 rejected, about 10 are clear valid rejections (eg utilities, phone lines, signs etc) and probably not rectifiable by moving the location slightly. However the other 10 potential sites warrant further discussion. All this is obviously prior to discussing costs, or considering resident views.
1.3 There was a debate about the fine line to be walked between taking residents views into account and not bending to the will of people who will always object to further street tree planting.
1.4 Paul S also updated on the volunteer Street Tree Wardens process. A draft advert and role description still needs to be signed off by SCC. After that, it should be advertised soon.
1.5 Christine is doing a final proof read before the publication of the glossy Strategy. This had thrown up a couple of paragraphs that needed updating.
Christine and Paul S also mentioned the Public Engagement exercise that is likely to run between July and September. That is to ensure that residents and community groups are allowed to feed in views about the “Working Draft” we’re using in 20/21, so it can be tweaked into a final document in 21/22 onwards.
2. Legal Work
2.1 This is now paused and unlikely to be re-opened, unless conflict begins again.
3.1 No progress on this and Covid-19 seems to have removed hopes of moving this forward.
4. Tree Disease Symposium
4.1 Caroline Millman put forward the possibility of this now being run via videoconference in some slightly modified format. Steering Group agreed, though it may still be some while before it can be progressed.
4.2 Paul S took an action to draft the story of Thornsett Road as a case study for use in the videoconference.
5. 1000 Oak Saplings
5.1 Two months back, there was the potential for STAG to purchase 1000 oak saplings, to prevent them from being composted. However the company selling them didn’t reply to emails, and when they eventually did, they admitted that the saplings hadn’t been watered in the meantime.
5.2 Given that there is every likelihood that many may have died in the interim, so a purchaser might only receive 400 live ones after purchasing 1000 Paul Brooke made the decision not to go ahead with the purchase on behalf of STAG.
6. Future of STAG
6.1 At the Tree Huggas celebration event in early 2020 there was a consultation about the vision for a future STAG.
6.2 It received wholly positive feedback, including a couple of additional volunteers for working on the conversion of STAG from a collective of representatives of local campaign groups, into a membership organisation, with a constitution, and set up as an unincorporated organisation.
6.3 Paul Brooke will draft a STAG Facebook post on the process to be shared with local action groups.
7. Paul Brooke position as co-chair of STAG
7.1 Paul Brooke will be stepping down as co-chair of STAG over the next month owing to a change in his circumstances.
7.2 After a discussion about whether any SG members would like to volunteer to co-chair it was agreed that Christine would continue in the position on her own. In light of this, Paul S emphasised the importance of moving to a new organisational structure asap.
7.3 There was unanimous praise for Paul B and for everything he has done for the campaign. He will announce his retirement on Facebook in the coming days.
1.1 Mods are putting posts on approval overnight or if nobody is available. Traffic is low currently, apart from some pictures of primulas!
2. Meeting with Cllr Mark Jones
2.1 Christine explained that the non-street tree felling in Rivelin valley proved fears about causing people to cluster. The definition of “essential work” was discussed. 2.2 Also discussed was the issue of how lack of clarity over guidelines and the definition of essential is causing needless stress.
2.3 Christine will ask Darren Butt about re-opening work and how he can communicate that better.
2.4 It was discussed at the same meeting that we understand there won’t be much activity on the discussions with the Bishop until the current crisis has abated. There has still been no communication and proposals from the Bishop though, so nothing to appraise. Paul B also stated that STAG need a firm commitment from them in writing.
3. Joint Investigations
3.1 Christine explained that she and Helen are working with Darren to populate his spreadsheet with STAG JI comments. We could send separately, but Darren is contractually obliged to send it so it makes sense.
4. Street Trees Strategy
4.1 Next STS meeting is a week on Friday.
5 Chelsea Road Elm
5.1 Paul S is working with Karen from SCC to put up an Information Board next to the Chelsea Road elm. Designed by Paul and his brother and paid for by Tree of the Year 2016 prize money. SCC seem very open to the plan so far.
6. Street Tree Planting in Nether Edge
6.1 Paul S has been working with Darren Butt on his 40 suggested locations for additional street trees in Nether Edge, paid for by SNET funds.
6.2 Positive reaction so far from Amey. Noted that some initial locations not deemed suitable (reasons are not immediately obvious). However this will help with drafting a more detailed process in the longer run.
7. Future of Save Nether Edge Trees.
7.1 SNET now very close to becoming a sub-group of its successor group, called Nether Edge and Sharrow Sustainable Transformation (NESST).
7.2 Alison Teal and Mark James driving the successor group forward.
7.3 SNET will remain in place as a sub group until we have spent remaining funds on additional trees, and our remaining threatened trees have been officially saved.
8. Street Tree Wardens
8.1 Paul S has a video conference with Liz Ballard and Darren Butt next week to discuss in more detail how to get the Street Tree Warden scheme (confirmed in street tree strategy) off the ground.
8.2 Paul will bring details back to SG when proposal is detailed enough.
9. One Thousand Oak Trees
9.1 Paul B gave an update on the 1,000 oaks. He’d made an initial approach and established that they’d still got them, but recently has been unable to contact them, so this is currently on hold.
9.2 It’s possible to buy them off the website, but it’s not safe to do so without being confident that this triggers a delivery as well as a payment.
“STAG notes the significant and valued contribution that the late Alan Robshaw made to saving Sheffield’s street trees and our thoughts are with his family.”
1.1 Concerns were expressed about Amey continuing to do various non-essential work during the “lockdown” period. This includes working practices that allow for no social distancing, two people in the same van, etc.
1.2 There have also been instances of felling dead saplings. STAG have no issue with the fellings as such. However, these are clearly non-essential work and it wouldn’t be a problem to leave them for another few months.
1.3 Paul Brooke and Christine have therefore drafted a letter to send to the Council expressing STAG concerns.
2. Street Tree Strategy Update
2.1 Christine and Paul S gave an update on the latest Street Tree Strategy meeting, which was held on Friday 3rd April.
2.2 The Strategy work is now moving into the delivery phase. Steering Group members confirmed they were content for Christine and Paul S to continue to sit on the Delivery Group for the Strategy for the next 12 months.
3. Legal Work
3.1 Paul S had volunteered to take on the legal work as sole lead. Regrettably he no longer has the time to continue this at present owing to workload issues in the day job and elsewhere.
3.2 Therefore the legal work has now paused, with nobody else able to take it forward at this time.
4. Tree Disease Symposium
4.1 Caroline has had to cancel the face to face Symposium she had been arranging with Jeremy Barrell and Ian Rotherham because of the current lockdown.
4.2 It is possible she may be able to rearrange something virtually after September. Plans are far enough advanced, and people keen enough, that she really does want to take it forward when it is safe to do so.
5. 1000 Oak Trees
5.1 It had been noted from Facebook posts that various tree nurseries are having to destroy 750,000 unwanted 2 year old oak saplings because of Covid19 and the lack of fulfilled government orders.
5.2 One nursery is selling off batches of 1000 saplings for £200. It is not accepting smaller orders and, if not bought in the next week, they will be destroyed.
5.3 Following debate on the Facebook page and discussion at Steering Group it was decided that STAG would buy a batch of 1000, for sale/gift in November 2020 Tree Planting Week.
6. STAG Facebook Group moderators
6.1 The moderators are feeling under pressure both because of the current situation and because of all the non-tree posts on the STAG Facebook Group page (lots of Covid19 issues and 5G conspiracy theories).
6.2 They recommended changing the posting rules, so that posts only go live if a moderator approves it. Steering Group accepted the recommendation.
1. Tree Huggers Celebration event. 1.1 In total around £350 to £400 was raised from the Pizza company, donations on the night, and sales of merchandise. 2. Street Tree Strategy. 2.1 Paul S gave an update. The draft document will be published next week for Cabinet scrutiny. 3. Trees identified for felling in 2020 by Amey. 3.1 All but 9 of the 193 trees identified have been visited by STAG SG members to confirm or query Amey recommendations. The remaining 9 will be done shortly. 3.2 Of the 184 viewed, we’ve asked for further information about 17%. The rest are not being contested as are clearly dead or seriously compromised. 4. Hanover Way Cycle Crossing. 4.1 This is not a specific street tree led issue, albeit 5 street trees will be felled. 4.2 STAG have formally disagreed with the proposal and suggested an alternative solution. 4.3 The Council have however decided to proceed. As mitigation, they have agreed to plant 15 new big trees nearby to compensate for the 5 to be felled. 5. Trees listed for felling for subsidence on Canterbury Avenue and Wisewood Avenue. 5.1 The consensus was to raise serious concerns with SCC and Amey about these proposed fells. There appears to be no real evidence that the trees are causing subsidence 6. Legal Case. 6.1 Little progress since last month. Paul S kindly offered to take the work on solely rather than working with Paul Brooke as he is currently overloaded. 7. The DEFRA Environment Bill and the “Sheffield clause”. 7.1 The draft Bill includes a “duty to consult” on street tree felling, which has been dubbed the “Sheffield clause”. 7.2 There was a debate about what it really meant, as the legal wording of the proposed bill hasn’t yet been published. It was agreed that, depending upon the drafting, it may align with our views. 8. LGO work. 8.1 No further progress. 9. Tree Disease Symposium. 9.1 Good progress has been made. Date and location firmed up and it will soon be advertised. 9.2 Jeremy Barrell will be the keynote speaker 10 Court Cases. 10.1 There was a discussion about the implications for the campaign of a particular case. 11. Implications for STAG of SNET planning to close the Nether Edge Tree Fund Account. 11.1 Paul S outlined how SNET planned to close the account at some point in the next 12 months as SNET morphed into the new local environmental group 11.2 This increases the pressure on STAG to set up its own account, with a constitution and trustees. 12. City wide TPO application. 12.1 Paul Brooke updated on progress. It will be sent in the next week or so.
1.1 Restarted this week. A new team is working on Kenwood Road and seem to be doing a good job. Pace is slow, roughly two trees a day, only non-threatened trees so far.
1.2 Likely to take a very long time to go through all the remaining threatened trees.
1.3 The Council process to formally sign off the trees already investigated and “probably saved” is glacial. This will be raised at the next joint meeting.
2. Legal Update
2.1 Paul Brooke and Paul Selby updated STAG Steering Group on proactive legal work with Ben Manovic.
3. Annual Tree Management Plan
3.1 Amey shared this with STAG last week. It includes all pruning plans, planting plans, and lists 193 trees they intend to fell in 2020 which are dead, dying, diseased etc.
3.2 Various Steering Group members have already visited around 120 of them, to give an opinion. The other roughly 70 need to be visited urgently, so that comprehensive feedback can be given. Steering Group members should try to check some of the remaining trees and feedback to Helen K. Keep an eye out for lapsed pollards designated as “structural integrity.
3.3 Most of the trees visited so far really do need to be felled. However, there are a few which we are questioning.
4. Tree Disease Symposium
4.1 Caroline and Heather have made good progress working with Ian Rotherham to make proper plans for a Tree Disease Symposium, ideally in early June.
4.2 It will be focused on new tree diseases, and specifically how to deal with them in an urban environment, with a particular focus on phytophthora of Limes, and Ash Dieback.
4.3 There will be a requirement to video record the conference for the record.
4.4 Thoughts were shared on possible attendees including Jeremy Barrell, Joe Coles, Kate Spicer.
4.5 Costs – Hallam to provide free space. Other possible contributors are STAG, Amey, SCC.
5. Public Meeting and Celebration Party
5.1 STAG will hold a Public Meeting and Party on the evening of Saturday 22nd February at Theatre Deli.
5.2 The Public Meeting element will be focused on the future of STAG, consulting on the aim to turn STAG into a membership group, for the whole city, for the first time. Also on having a proper constitution, the potential for an elected committee, and its future aims.
5.3 The celebration will include turns from Calvin and Simon, Benoit, Break a Leg, and a DJ.
5.4 To be free but ticketed via Eventbrite and looking for voluntary donations towards Jaq’s film.
6. Hanover Way Cycle Crossing
6.1 Paul Brooke has responded to the details behind the proposal to fell three trees to allow for an upgraded cycle crossing of Hanover Way. In our opinion, at least two of the three trees don’t need to be felled.
6.2 STAG have also been asked about a suggestion to remove a tree in a planter near the Crucible. Trees in planters generally don’t do well and it is proposed for 2 replacements to be planted in the City Centre so it doesn’t seem appropriate to object on this occasion.
7.1 Paul B has contacted Alan Story but no further progress to report.
8. Abbeydale Park Rise
8.1 Amey is hosting a Public Meeting with APR residents, with support from Ann Anderson, consulting them on the plans to plant additional trees, and to remove five trees that are diseased/dead/damaged – all were agreed by us
8.2 Ann is relieved with the complete change of attitude from Amey. They have offered 8 additional trees to be planted to replace any removed. There are some issues to be resolved over the species of trees proposed.
8.3 Works due to commence 24 February for 3 days. To be followed by pavement and road resurfacing.
9. Street Tree Strategy
9.1 Paul S very briefly updated STAG.
9.2 Draft posted on FB page. Any feedback to Paul S.
10. Blanket TPO for all Sheffield Trees
10.1 Draft on FB page. The letter proposing this will soon be sent to Sheffield Council.
There has been a submission of a letter of interest to the lottery climate fund and there has not yet been a response. There is a petition for the trees on Abbeydale Road started by a resident but it is widely recognised that Amey and Sheffield Council do not want any more street trees as they will cost money to maintain and become a liability.
A working document has been started which contains the key challenges and gripes. We have 5 days per month of pro-bono legal assistance and it was recognised that this should be used effectively.
Nothing has happened and there is no indication as to when this will resume. The tree review has been published and Stanley Rd has solutions defined for all trees except the bottom one. Action – Mark Jones (SCC) to be formally asked as to when the investigations will be re-started.
Abbeydale Park rise There has been no reply to an email sent to Mark Jones (SCC). The Dore and Totley group have had a meeting with Mark Jones. Amey have indicated to the residents that there is a solution for all trees and they can all be retained.
Philip Beecroft, Head of Highway Maintenance at Sheffield City Council, still clearly believes that phased felling is still necessary even though the trees are healthy and they are not actually causing any damage that cannot be repaired. There are still 306 trees on the felling list.
Street Tree Stategy
There was a meeting on the 20th Dec 2019 and there are three more meetings scheduled. The document is reported to be going to the Council scrutiny committee; there is a deadline of the 17th. There is a meeting on street tree sustainability and Liz Ballard (SRWT) has nominated a STAG member to assist.
Tree disease Conference
We have a meeting with Ian Rotherham in Jan 2020 and the format is moving towards being a symposium. We need to create a definitive list of people we need in the room to make it a success. We also need some papers. Action – There is some Forestry research that needs to be forwarded to Caroline.
Any Other Business
Paul B will share in the next week the details of a TRA.
Tree Planting Update 900 whips need a good home. Russel to talk to Andrew at the cricket club and Darren Butt (Amey) for suitable sites. STAG still has funds so will provide the supports.
STAG Future We should plan an open meeting in Mid to Late Feb 2020 to discuss the future. We should plan for 50 people and Shelley will help. It should be a weekday evening and we could use the Union Street café or the Quaker meeting house.
1.1 TPO – Paul passed round a brief note that will form the basis of this ongoing work.1.2 Loan to Sarah Deakin for merchandise approved.
2. Pro Active Legal Work
2.1 Paul S updated on this.
3. Review meeting with Councillors Jones and Bishop
3.1 This is still yet to happen at time of meeting.
4. Draft Tree Review Document
4.1 Final draft awaited for distribution.4.2 Also still to be run past key personnel in the Council.4.3 Publication date before Xmas likely.
5. People’s Inquiry
5.1 No further progress
6. Tree Disease Conference
6.1 No further news. Heather volunteered to assist Caroline.
7. National Lottery Climate Fund
7.1 Approach from Regather and Sheffield Climate Alliance re this funding.
7.2 Currently we’re not set up as an organisation in any official sense but no reason why we couldn’t be.
7.3 An Expression of Interest could be submitted.
7.4 Paul B to take forward and potentially attend Sheffield Climate Alliance.
8. Petition for Street Trees on Abbeydale Road
8.1 A trader has set up this petition. Paul B to respond and offer assistance or engagement from STAG.
9. Tree Planting Update
9.1 STAG bought 2 trees for this initiative by Green City Heritage – a Sessile Oak and a Field Maple. Planted at Townfield Head Farm.
9.2 The Tree Charter Principles may form a template for a future STAG organisation. Heather to follow up with Woodland Trust representative.
9.3 Andrew and Russell still looking for suitable sites. Response so far has been slow.
9.4 After delays surrounding the GCH initiative because of the actions of certain Councillors, Parks and Woodlands have now contacted us with a more positive approach.
9.5 The owner of Townfield Head Farm has proposed the use of some of their land as a potential community tree nursery.
9.6 Has anyone any space or contacts with space where whips could be planted? All SG members asked to look at this.
10. STAG Future
10.1 For info – Amey now have more detailed info on all street trees including CAVAT and itree information. Done for them by a separate company.
10.2 Noted that other Councils have started to resolve issues around street trees with “Tree Forums”. Not recommended that any similar body in Sheffield be called that owing to issues with previous incarnations.
10.3 What might a future organisational structure for STAG look like? It seems at present we are effectively an “Unincorporated Association”. If we wished to be “Incorporated” as a charity or a “Community Interest Company” that carries some legal advantages around liability. there is also the possibility of a new crossover – a “Charitable Incorporated Organisation”. Paul B will send round information he has gathered on the different models.
10.4 However, in all cases, any future STAG would need to have individuals willing to take on the leadership role. We would need some clarity on who that might be.
10.5 An open meeting to discuss the future is a possibility.
11.1 Paul H thanked those who had expressed willingness to assist the former Chair of Friends of the Botanical Gardens with information to assist her in writing an article.
1.1 Caroline Millman met with Ian Rotherham to discuss ideas. He agreed he would be willing to help STAG organise the conference.
1.2 The exact nature of the conference remains to be decided but main priorities are to build a consensus view on how to deal with the Phytophthora outbreak in Lime trees and how to ensure Amey take a sensible approach to Ash Dieback, rather than felling all Ash trees at the first sign of disease.
1.3 Paul Selby took an action to begin a thread on the STAG Steering Group Facebook page to allow consensus building on the nature of the conference.
2. Tree Preservation Orders
2.1 This was a topic that Paul Brooke had raised at the previous SG meeting, but which we didn’t have much time to discuss.
2.2 The initial idea was to begin sending in many TPO applications for all sorts of urban trees, not just street trees, to get wide community participation in this and build a media campaign to put pressure on SCC.
2.3 However, following discussion, a better plan is to start by asking SCC to put a blanket TPO on all trees in the SCC geographic area, as part of the climate emergency.
3. Joint Investigations and the Review document
3.1 Re-drafting work continues but Paul Brooke still believes this will be published before Christmas.
4. Outstanding fines owed to SCC
4.1 SG members continue to support individuals in dispute with SCC over outstanding fines and sensible ways forward continue to be sought.
5. Legal Update
5.1 Paul Brooke and Paul Selby updated SG on conversations with legal advisers about potential future actions.
6. Further Legal Update
6.1 Paul Brooke will contact Rebecca about the action agreed some time ago.
7. People’s Inquiry Update
7.1 At the last meeting SG confirmed STAG’s support for Alan Story’s approach.
7.2 The launch of the General Election campaign means this is on hold until January
7.3 It was noted that separately Cllr Mark Jones is meeting with Bishop Pete in the next few weeks to discuss a potential “Truth and Reconciliation” project.
8. Tree Charter Tree Planting Event
8.1 The approach has changed in the last month, with the plan now being for Tree Charter week to be launched in a different way by Green City Heritage, with STAG in a supporting role.
8.2 More will be announced soon, but it is likely to be 30th November at Manor Hills.
9. Proposed Tree works on Ecclesall Road
9.1 Amey notified STAG on 4th November of potential fellings of 3 trees they are classifying as “dying” on Ecclesall Road this weekend.
9.2 STAG have opposed this approach given the short notice and the absence of any suggestion that the trees are currently dangerous. The short notice means that no independent advice can be sought.
9.3 These trees are also supposed to be subject to joint investigation work.
9.4 Amey have been informed of STAG’s view but have not yet responded.
9.5 UPDATE post meeting – Amey have decided not to proceed with any fellings on Ecclesall Road for the time being.
10. Future of STAG
10.1 No further progress to report.
11. Tree Numbers
11.1 Christine is trying to get Amey and SCC to confirm how many street trees Amey will hand back to SCC at the end of the contract, plus how many it took over in 2012, and any explanations for differences in numbers.
11.2 However she is acting on partial information that doesn’t include all the data from Helen Kemp.
11.3 In addition the situation is confused by Amey and SCC rounding up numbers and SCC’s inconsistent answers to enquiries.
11.4 The action was left with Christine to formulate a clear idea of what she needs to know, then to pose those questions clearly to SCC. Finally to take up with Paul Brooke and Tree Strategy group if she isn’t happy with answers received.
12. Request for a loan
12.1 Sarah Deakin approached Chris and Paul to seek a loan from STAG of £1000 to fund the production of 100 more Heartwood poem glossy framed pictures to generate funds in STAGs name for Indian tree planting initiatives (one of Robert Macfarlane’s ideas).
12.2 Steering Group approved provisionally, subject to Chris confirming he was content to make such loans as STAG Treasurer.
13. Dead Trees notified by Amey
13.1 A month ago Amey notified STAG of around 80 dead trees they intend to fell.
13.2 STAG SG members have inspected every one and accepted all are dead apart from 6 where we have asked for further information.
1.1Chris Rust, STAG Treasurer, attended the full Steering Group meeting, and provided a verbal financial update. All supporters loans have now been repaid.
2. Merchandise Sales and Documentary film funding.
2.1 There was a long discussion about the agreed donation of £500 to Jaq Pitchelwitch’s documentary film on the campaign and whether it should be increased and whether another filmmaker’s documentary should be supported. It was agreed that the donation to Jaq’s film should remain at £500 and that no other films would receive funding at this time.
2.2 it was also agreed that Cecilie should continue selling STAG merchandise with funds to be directed to Jaq’s film and that this arrangement could continue until further notice
3. Joint Tree Inspections and the Review
3.1 The draft of the minutes and lessons learned from the Review meeting are undergoing final re-drafting, before it is published on the Council website.
3.2 It is agreed that it is an excellent document at the moment, and contains things that could be useful in future dealings with the Council.
3.3 Helen Kemp’s photographs and evidence will also be included in the document.
3.4 Joint Investigations remain on hold. But this is acceptable for both STAG and Amey because the Review document includes lessons learned that will allow Amey to save trees more easily and in better ways, once the investigations re-start
4. Future of STAG
4.1 An initial session had been held on this topic at the June meeting but no progress has been made since then.
4.2 SNET have made some progress on future legacy issues at their meetings and this has prompted STAG Steering Group to add this back to the Steering Group agenda.
4.3 It is also the case that most other local groups have become somewhat moribund. Bearing this in mind, Paul Brooke proposed that STAG aim to become a city wide tree action group with membership and a constitution, inviting members of local groups across the city to become members.
4.4 There was a debate about what would then happen to the local tree action groups, with the general consensus being to “mothball” them, not wind them down, so that they were ready to spring up again, should conflict with Sheffield Council ever return.
4.5 All of this should not be fully implemented until peace with the Council and Amey is fully signed up to, likely possible date being Spring 2020.
4.6 Paul Brooke agreed to draft a proposal document that could be used as a consistent message to all local groups, when consulting them.
5. Legal Update
5.1 Paul Selby provided a very brief update, which was that Ben Manovic (pro bono solicitor and STAG supporter) is still looking at the legal questions Paul Brooke and I asked him.
6. LGO complaints about injunctions
6.1 This was something Rebecca had agreed to take forward but no progress as yet to report. Action agreed for Rebecca to begin a draft complaint letter that could be used as a template.
7. People’s Inquiry
7.1 Paul Brooke and Paul Selby updated Steering Group members on the proposal that Alan Story has made to hold a People’s Inquiry into the Sheffield Street Tree Crisis. It would be modelled on something Huddersfield is currently doing, hiring a retired Judge to chair an Inquiry into a hospital closure.
7.2 As nobody else was doing anything serious to start an Inquiry it would appear that either somebody else needs to lead on getting one, or STAG needs to lend our support to Alan’s proposal.
7.3 The consensus in Steering Group was to support the initiative, but that it would benefit from being officially independent of STAG, even if Steering Group members sat on the organising group.
7.4 Chris R had completed an action he began in the Spring to create an easy to use repository, where any member of the public could submit evidence for the Inquiry. He now will write up simple to understand guidance
7.5 Paul Brooke agreed to speak to Alan, confirming what STAG Steering Group had agreed.
8. Tree Disease Conference
8.1 It was agreed back in April/May that STAG should organise one, with the main topic being the Phytophthora disease of lime trees, and what to do about it in an urban environment. Some STAG Steering Group members had agreed to take it forward but, for a variety of reasons, there has been no progress.
8.2 Caroline Millman agreed to do what she could, and Paul Brooke agreed to send her a “brain dump” of his thoughts to date.
9. Tree Planting
9.1 Russell Johnson and Paul Brooke updated everyone on continued progress towards their goal of lots of STAG organised tree planting during the last week of November. Publicity will be going out soon.
9.2 Steering Group members approved funding of up to £1000, should it be needed.
9.3 Combined with the tree planting, Russell talked about a potential social event on the evening of November 23rd.
10. New Trees Listed for Felling by Amey
10.1 Darren Butt had notified Helen Kemp of a new batch of 80 Dead/Dying/Diseased trees which Amey want to fell in the coming weeks.
10.2 Steering Group members volunteered to inspect some of them, and divide the rest up on the Steering Group Facebook Group post Helen had made.
1. Matters Arising
1.1 Paul B approved payment to Jaq Pixelwitch for her film about the campaign.
1.2 Rebecca/Paul B still looking at framework complaint letters for people to use.
2. Tree Review with SCC/Amey
2.1 Hugh, Paul B, Heather, Christine and Helen have attended.
2.2 In the case of trees for potential felling now or in the future SCC have said they won’t approve any without evidence of investigations having occurred and photos.
2.3 For discriminatory trees they have confirmed that they don’t require a wide
pavement on both sides of the road.
2.4 Helen showed attendees a slideshow of example trees which proved that the ITP was right on numerous occasions where they recommended that a tree could be saved.
2.5 There are examples of trees where a kerbstone has been left out and these were shown.
2.6 The review group are now looking at how the first draft will be written with examples of lessons learned and actions for the future. Likely to be by subject or theme, eg, kerbline.
2.7 Paul B will send the draft round to SG for comments in due course.
3. Legal Update
3.1 An update on meetings with legal representatives and potential future steps was given.
4. Tree Conference
4.1 PB has contacted the University via Ffion. She has suggested contacting Nigel Dunnett and Ian Rotherham, PB will send emails to these contacts. Lee Armstrong will send PB details of other possible contacts.
4.2 The Street Trees and politics conference is in a couple of weeks.
5. Joint Investigations
5.1 Currently paused. Some of the Amey team with experience have left or are unavailable. There will be a need for others to be brought in who can learn the methodology before a restart can be made.
6. Street Tree Strategy
6.1 STAG has produced some documentation in preparation which has been sent round.
6.2 The next meeting has been delayed but others have been scheduled for the next few months.
7. SCC Cabinet changes
7.1 Cllr Mark Jones has taken over the remit and has been contacted by Paul B and Christine. He has responded positively.
8. Tree Planting
8.1 Scheme preparation is up and running. PB has followed up with Woodland Trust and Trees for Cities are also interested. Councillors could be contacted for possible locations.
1. Heritage Walks
1.1 Paul Brooke updated members on the request/invite to STAG from Sheffield Heritage Week to organise tree/protest related walks.
1.2 Paul S and Jim Clarke will be leading a number of walks during that week, mainly in the Nether Edge area.
1.3 There is a surprising interest in what our campaign achieved in the Sheffield heritage community.
2. Joint Investigations
2.1 There was a discussion about the disorganisation at Amey. Many of us commented how it is now really stretching it to describe the investigations as “joint” given the short notice we are given, and constantly changing plans.
2.2 Paul Brooke and Christine will be raising this and a number of related matters with Darren Butt later this week in a meeting with him and Mick Croft (Paul Billington’s replacement).
2.3 Despite the Amey chaos, the Amey work is still producing the sort of outcomes we would want, putting in place simple solutions that should lead to nearly all the threatened trees being retained in the end.
2.4 There was a clear action point for all those who still had outstanding reports from Joint Investigations to submit them to Helen Kemp.
3. Poor Amey Practice
3.1 Christine reported back on some shockingly bad practice by Amey subcontractors on Rivelin Valley Road pavement resurfacing work. Not only were the subcontractors blatantly violating NJUG guidance, but the Amey supervisors were fine with them doing this.
3.2 Worse, there was a serious breach of health and safety, over a full morning, involving a child in the safety zone.
3.3 Hugh Clough and Christine have put in a catalogue of serious complaints to Amey, and Hugh has reported the H&S breach to the HSE.
3.4 This will be a topic of conversation between SCC, Amey, Paul and Christine at their meeting later this week
4. Sheffield Council rubber stamping Amey recommendations to retain indefinitely
4.1 Mick Croft seems much happier than Paul Billington to allow the STAG reports on the joint investigations to be included in the document Amey are submitting for each tree, so that he and his team can see the two pieces of evidence together.
4.2 Dates are now being looked into to book in a full day meeting between STAG, SCC and Amey to review the first proper batch of trees for likely final decision by SCC
5. Forestry Commission Investigation
5.1 Paul S updated STAG Steering Group on ongoing conversations with the Woodland Trust about the national implications of the FC report.
5.2 The Woodland Trust believe it is already causing other local authorities to stop and think and change their actions around the felling of street trees.
5.3 The Woodland Trust and others believe that it would now be difficult for SCC or Amey to fell more street trees in Sheffield without applying to the FC for a licence, unless there was evidence of obvious danger/obstruction/serious damage.
5.4 SG discussed the legal implications of the report and potential future actions.
6. Tree Disease Conference
6.1 Shelley and Christine had agreed in April to begin to organise a conference in Sheffield to focus on Ash Dieback and the emerging Phytophthora threat to Lime trees. Time had not allowed further progress. Lee volunteered to take this forward.
7. Organised Tree Planting
7.1 Paul Brooke talked about Tree Charter Week coming up in November, and how as a Tree Charter branch (as well as for legacy reasons), it would be really good if STAG could lead a large tree planting campaign that week, building on the success of Calvin and Paul Powlesland’s efforts last year.
7.2 He had already approached Andrew Stringer to lead this, and who was keen. But he wanted a STAG Steering Group joint lead too. Russell volunteered. Paul will now meet with Russell and Andrew, before handing this task over.
7.3 It is likely that all local groups will be asked to support them, particularly in identifying sites such as community ground where people want trees to be planted, and it is legal to do so.
8.1 Paul Brooke and Russell reported that there had been an interesting change of tone from Lewis Dagnall and Olivia Blake about this at last months Cabinet meeting.
8.2 No date in the diary yet, but Lewis had agreed to meet with Paul to discuss, once the holidays are over.
8.3 Rebecca had already done some thinking about what the three “killer reasons” were for an inquiry. She agreed to share with Steering Group members.
Fresh inspections of over 200 trees that Sheffield Council had claimed had to be chopped down from city pavements as a “last resort” have identified just one that cannot be saved – leading anti-felling campaigners to say today their protests had been vindicated.
In March 2018, work to remove thousands of street trees in the city and replace them with saplings as part of a £2bn highways contract with Amey was put on hold following increasing protests against the strategy and national political condemnation of the use of dozens of police officers and private security guards to support operations.
At that time, around 300 trees earmarked for felling during the first five years of a 25-year contract had still yet to be removed after about 5,700 trees had been axed already. Campaigners argued many healthy trees could have been saved but the council repeatedly said removals were only carried out as a “last resort”.
But following months of mediated talks with campaigners, a new approach was introduced this year designed to reduce the number of trees being removed through increased use of other solutions such as kerb repairs.
A report going to Sheffield Council’s cabinet next week says 191 of the 309 outstanding trees will now be “retained on a longer term basis”, with 26 requiring “bespoke solutions” to be saved and a further 91 trees awaiting investigation.
So far, just one tree previously listed for felling has now been deemed unsaveable.
Paul Brooke, co-chair of Sheffield Tree Action Groups, said the new approach showed it had always been possible to prevent vast numbers of fellings using solutions that were always available within the terms of the contract.
“It is vindication for the campaign, it is exactly what we said to them all along,” he said.
“Over the last few months we have been able to observe Amey workers doing simple highway repairs to a good standard, such as fitting thin kerbs and removing old built up tarmac.
“The announcement that 62 per cent of the 309 trees, that we due to be felled ‘as a last resort’, can now be retained indefinitely is great news but no surprise. It is what we campaigned for.
“We look forward to reviewing the lessons learned and publishing the joint assessments with the council. We are confident this will show that very few healthy trees needed to be felled in order to complete the Streets Ahead road scheme. At some point in the future I have little doubt that we will reflect on how we as a city got this so wrong.”
As part of an agreement reached at the end of the mediated talks, a new Street Tree Strategy for the city is to be developed and the council has announced that Liz Ballard, Chief Executive of Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, has now been appointed to the role of independent chair of a group including campaigners and council officials which will oversee the development of the strategy.
Councillor Lewis Dagnall, cabinet member for Environment, Streetscene and Climate Change at Sheffield City Council, said: “In recent months the Council has been working closely with both Amey and representatives of STAG to enable work on the Street Tree Strategy to begin.
“Simultaneously, significant activity has been underway across the city to assess individual trees. As part of this process, a specialist team, made up of tree and highway specialists from Amey, has been exploring possible solutions to retain trees, considering all viable options and often, carrying out suitable remedial works in the same day.
“The availability of alternative solutions funded by Amey, combined with adjustments to the council’s specification around some trees, has allowed us to make significant and positive progress, with the support of all parties.
“I have every confidence that the new group will navigate through what may, at times, be complex matters and arrive at a suitable, and satisfactory, resolution so that we can continue taking positive steps forward.
“Whilst it’s recognised that there are still challenges to overcome, we hope that by continuing to work with stakeholders and affected residents in an open and structured way, we will agree on a long-term solution for the benefit of everyone in the city.”
Mr Brooke said: “We hope that the development of an exemplary Street Tree Strategy will protect the future of our much needed urban forest and will result in an increase in the street canopy cover with all the health and environmental benefits that brings.”
A Forestry Commission investigation into the legality of the fellings that were carried out which was launched last year is understood to be close to completion
1. Actions from the last STAG Steering Group meeting
1.1 Paul Brooke had followed up with Dave Dillner about whether STAG had been set up as a Woodland Trust Charter branch.
1.2 Dave confirmed it had been, in his name, and was happy to transfer this to someone else in STAG.
1.3 Volunteer from STAG Steering Group required.
2. Co-chair of STAG
2.1 Christine King has volunteered to be co- chair and this has been supported by all other SG members.
3. STAG meetings with SCC
3.1 Following the lack of progress from SCC in fulfilling most/all of their promised actions, Paul Brooke has requested that the Bishop of Sheffield be involved once more to move things forward.
3.2 Consequently there has been a meeting two weeks ago between Julie Dore, Lewis Dagnall, Paul Brooke, Christine King and the Bishop. It went as well as could have been expected. The Bishop understood the score, and re-emphasised the importance of SCC following through with its promises, outlined in the joint agreement.
3.3 New dates for re-clarified actions were put in place.
3.4 Council Officers (Paul Billington) were held responsible for the delays by Councillors which, if true, should be resolved when the replacement, Mick Crofts, moves into post this week.
4. Independent Street Tree Strategy Review
4.1 Paul Brooke and Paul Selby updated Steering Group members on the meeting that Deepa, Paul and Paul had with Mick Crofts (SCC) and Liz Ballard (Wildlife Trust) the day before.
4.2 Most of the meeting was spent reviewing what had been agreed 8 weeks before with Paul Billington, and honing the wording of the “project plan.”
4.3 The high level summary is that the aim is to begin the review in July, and have the discussion phase of this wrapped up by late October or early November, with the drafting complete by the end of December, and the implementation of the new strategy beginning in April 2020.
4.4 STAG will have three members in the review group, Amey and SCC will have two each.
4.5 Other members will include an academic with a specialist in tree valuation, an expert at harnessing community partnership working with councils, the Woodland Trust, an independent arborist, and someone from another local authority who has experience of drafting and implementing a respected street tree strategy. These will form the “core steering group” membership, chaired by Liz Ballard.
4.6 The core steering group will seek input and review from other specialists (eg Ecologists, highways engineers etc) on specific topics and in quality assuring drafts.
4.7 We aim to be in a position to announce more detail publicly in approximately 3 weeks.
4.8 There was a discussion about who the STAG members would be. It’s likely to be led by Paul Selby with two from Deepa, Heather and Christine for the other two slots.
5. Forestry Commission Criminal Investigation
5.1 Paul Selby updated on the latest situation, which remains that the report is imminent
6. Pingle Road tree report
6.1 Phil Yates has been doing some forensic investigation into a tree felled on Pingle Road, which was felled “as a last resort” due to pavement damage.
6.2 The tree has now been replaced with a sapling, and the road resurfaced.
6.3 However the pavement hasn’t been resurfaced and an FoI answer has revealed that SCC/Amey believe that there is no need to resurface the pavement or plans to do so.
6.4 The old tree root remains in the pavement, and Phil has some interesting pavement scans to prove this. In other words, the tree was felled for pavement damage. But the pavement is not sufficiently damaged for it to be resurfaced!
6.5 There was a discussion what to do with Phil’s excellent report.
7. Deepening Troubles at Amey
7.1 Amey have announced a new round of redundancies, and are about to shrink their road resurfacing staff from 47 to 23, relying more in the future on subcontractors, as and when required.
7.2This has caused issues amongst their staff and is impacting on the already inefficient joint inspection process.
8. New list of 20 dead trees
8.1 Amey are still working collaboratively to notify Helen Kemp and others of newly identified dead/diseased/dying trees and a new batch of 20 were recently notified.
8.2 Many were agreed with by SG but some need querying.
8.3 Darren Butt has promised to not fell any of the trees where questions are outstanding.
8.4 Helen Kemp agreed to post details on the STAG Facebook page to keep supporters informed
9. Academic Conference on Urban Trees and Politics
9.1 There was a lengthy discussion about whether STAG should fund some places at the conference. It was ultimately agreed that it would fund two places
10. Tree Disease Conference
10.1 At the previous STAG SG meeting, Christine and Shelley had agreed to begin setting up a conference in Sheffield to discuss the emerging Phytophthora disease outbreak, and how to react to it in an urban environment, perhaps also focusing on Ash Dieback too.
10.2 Christine and Shelley were asked to update on progress when possible.
11. Fellings on Sheffield University Land
11.1 There has been some concern on STAG Facebook Group on this topic in recent weeks.
11.2 A dedicated campaigner has managed to set up a meeting with the University and asked for a STAG rep to accompany him. Heather kindly volunteered.
12. STAG Future Aims and Objectives (Legacy)
12.1 Following a discussion at the previous STAG SG meeting, Paul Brooke led a workshop session beginning to explore the future of STAG if/when a more normal relationship with SCC and Amey is in place.
12.2 Ideas were suggested, and we agreed to continue to work through these ideas at future meetings with a view to further consulting with the wider campaign in due course.
1. Matters arising
1.1 Disease issues – Paul B has contacted Dr Wilson. There is no easy route to a decision on whether to fell an individual tree with phytophthora. A discussion is needed on the technicalities in each case. Andy Greenwood will be contacted by Paul B about the potential to bring in external expertise to help form an operational plan.
1.2 The potential for a co-hosted conference on the subject was discussed. Christine, Shelley, Phil and Rebecca all expressed interest in helping investigate that.
1.3 Evidence collection for an inquiry – Christine and Helen have met Chris Rust. A website is up for collecting evidence. Justin will continue his parallel work on holding individuals to account legally. Mark is setting up forum threads which may fed into the process.
1.4 Phil is still in the process of producing a two page summary on the small saplings issue helped by Caroline Millman.
2. Round Table discussions with SCC
2.1 Paul B reported that we were still happy to meet SCC for meetings if there had been any progress on the previously agreed actions. Bishop Pete has been contacted about moving matters along. Still no date for a review meeting.
2.2 There are priority trees and streets still awaiting inspection because of the process Amey are now following.
3. Dead and notified trees
3.1 20 new trees are now on the felling list because they are dead or dying. They need inspecting by SG members. SG members asked to notify Helen K which trees they can inspect by FB thread.
4. Meeting with Louise Haigh MP
4.1 Heather and Paul B met with Louise Haigh after initial contacts. Further actions have been agreed.
5. Forestry Commision
5.1 No further feedback.
6. STAG Moderators
6.1 There was discussion on how to deal with posts tangentially connected to STAG. Agreed that they may be deleted or comments turned off to prevent clouding of directly relevant posts. Posters are usually asked to explain why posts may be relevant.
6.2 Volunteers always needed for extra moderators.
7.1 Discussion on ways of boosting sales by attendance at events and/or FB or Twitter in collaboration with Jane Miller.
8. Meeting with Andy Greenwood
8.1 Andy showed their interactive map of all street trees. Agreed it has lots of potential uses.
9. 3D scans
9.1 Phil has done 3D scans of Millhouses Lane. It will show any deviations from straight kerbs and any future movement of structures, eg walls.
9.2 Contact Phil if anyone has any potential uses for the technology, eg third party claims.
10.1 Flagged up need for STAG to work on legacy issues. Work to be done at next meeting.
10.2 Tree Charter Day 23 November – What might STAG do? Dave to be contacted by Paul B about our membership status.
10.3 Flagged up for next meeting with Amey – What are they doing about vandalism issue?
1. Update about 3rd Party Fellings
1.1 At the previous STAG Steering Group meeting, there had been a lengthy discussion about 3rd party reasons for felling. Specifically, about the reasonable process relating to Insurance claims against street trees from residents but also about the very weak process for simple accusations of damage.
1.2 Paul Brooke and Heather Russell met Darren Butt and Amey colleagues in early March to discuss concerns about the process in general, plus specific concerns about a number of trees recently listed for felling for this reason, including the most prominent one, on Upper Albert Road.
1.3 The discussion went positively, with Amey removing all but one of the trees listed for felling from the list, with hardly any discussion.
1.4 The one tree still listed for felling is in Fulwood, and relates to a resident chopping big roots of a street tree that were within the households boundary. This is something the resident is legally allowed to do, but was advised not to by Amey. The tree is now unsafe, and Paul Brooke visited to confirm this, so it will have to be felled.
1.5 Ensuring the 3rd party felling process is satisfactory in the long term will be dealt with in the upcoming Street Tree Strategy Review
2. Finance Update
2.1 Ahead of the meeting, Chris Rust had shared the latest update on STAG Finances.
2.2 Discussion took place about the summary, and the four recommendations put forward by Chris for action.
2.3 consensus decisions were reached on the 4 recommendations for action.
3. Joint Inspections Feedback
3.1 The daily reports on the STAG Facebook page contain most of the relevant information required so not much need for discussion at the meeting.
3.2 There was a brief discussion about the shocking organisation and communications of Streets Ahead.
3.3 All agreed to formally record in the minutes of the meeting the huge thanks to all who have taken part in the joint inspections so far.
4. Publishing Outcomes of the Joint Inspections
4.1 Despite regular chasing emails, and fortnightly meetings, SCC are prevaricating.
4.2 The Joint Agreement that was published in early December makes clear that all trees inspected would be reported on, and would include the asset value of the tree, the joint assessment of any damage caused, a cost benefit analysis of retaining the tree, and the SCC decision.
4.3 SCC seem to have woken up to the fact that this would mean publishing on their own website the information that they would be felling trees worth £30,000+ despite a solution being available that may cost less than £1000. Also that Amey would be responsible for the cost and all because SCC wouldn’t accept a kerb that isn’t completely straight.
4.4 The prevarication led Paul Brooke to ask Bishop Pete to get involved, which has caused SCC to agree once again to comply with the Joint Agreement.
4.5 Some of the finer details of the decision making process from SCC are still to be agreed on.
4.6 However, Amey will be sending their assessments to STAG first, for us to complete our own assessments on the same document, prior to submission to SCC.
4.7 Agreement that the first set of decisions would be on 8 trees out of the 47 or so trees inspected in the first few weeks of the Joint Inspection Process.
4.8 Still no dates for when this will be, but likely to be sometime in the next six weeks.
5.1 The Whitely Wood trees which are looking very sick, and have absolutely confirmed diagnosis, will be felled this week, subject to weather conditions.
5.2 The other trees, including those on Thornsett Road, still need their disease to be absolutely confirmed.
5.3 New insight is emerging about potential ways of treating trees with Phytophthora, including with fungicide injections.
5.4 Also, whilst the best practice of clear felling trees with infectious disease makes sense in commercial forestry, it is not completely clear this is best practice in urban forestry so work to bring in outside experts is ongoing.
6. Independent Street Tree Strategy Review
6.1 Paul Brooke, Paul Selby and Deepa Shetty met with Paul Billington and Liz Ballard.
6.2 The aim had been to not say too much up front and get Liz to outline her own thoughts on how she would want the review to be conducted.
6.3 All present were extremely positive about Liz. It was clear she was not afraid to challenge Paul Billington, and had a reputational stake in getting it right, recognising that her and the Wildlife Trust would be criticised by campaigners if not.
6.4 She made a number of good suggestions for other experts who should sit on the group that she would chair.
6.5 STAG Steering Group agreed with the choice of Liz Ballard as chair of the Independent Review
6.6 The next meeting is likely to be in roughly a months time, and would get into the detail of Terms of Reference, governance, membership and timescales.
7. Tree Planting
7.1 Paul Brooke reported that the Paul Powlesland/Calvin Payne tree planting the previous weekend had gone well.
7.2 The intent is to do something similar, with more notice, in the 2019/2020 planting season.
7.3 Russell Johnson offered to lead on this topic for STAG Steering Group.
8.1 At the previous meeting, Christine King and Helen Kemp had offered to work with Chris Rust to draw up a high level plan for what 10 or so key topics the Inquiry needed to cover and which we would to collect evidence for. This followed Chris’s offer previously to set up a repository for storing the key evidence.
8.2 Christine and Helen reconfirmed their support for this and had contacted Chris.
9. It’s Our City
9.1 Shelley Cockayne gave an update on this initiative for our information.
10. Overly Small Saplings
10.1 Phil Yates has worked hard and collected evidence about lies and incompetence from both SCC and Amey on this topic, something we’d discussed in more detail at the previous months meeting.
10.2 Paul Brooke asked Phil to condense the evidence into a simple two page story, that could be used by the media, for example.
11.1 Paul Billington had announced in the Street Tree Strategy meeting that he was taking early retirement, and will be around for the next three months only. He doesn’t know who his replacement will be, or indeed if there will be one.
1. Update on Inspections and recent conversations with Amey and SCC 1.1 Broadly positive feedback on new approach as all the Facebook updates etc show. 1.2 Amey drawing up recommendations to go to SCC. Most reports recommending to SCC that inspected trees are retained. 1.3 Even with the ones that can’t be retained by immediate solutions, Amey are generally recommending that trees be retained, should the Council agree to vary the contract specification. 1.4 Some solutions might require technical drawings which could delay decisions as they will have to be submitted to SCC Highways dept. 1.5 The main problem is delay on the SCC side on making any decisions official. 1.6 There does seem to be disconnect between the politicians and the officers, with the politicians believing that flexibility is being allowed and communicated to Amey whilst Amey operatives are telling STAG that this hasn’t been communicated to them. It would be helpful to clarify this at the next STAG/SCC meeting. 1.7 The very recent move by Amey to inspect all trees on a road (including phased felling trees and currently non-threatened trees) is broadly seen as a good thing. Amey’s aim is to put in place a “whole road solution” that saves all the trees in one location also ensuring that currently safe trees don’t get identified for felling later on. For example, a “whole road solution” for Rundle Road might involve bringing the whole kerb line out by a few centimetres. 1.8 Whilst this was recognised as a good idea there are risks if SCC do not agree. The inspection of currently safe trees on Rundle Road is identifying roots in the carriageway, potentially meaning they are added to the felling list, should SCC not allow the kerb line to be brought out or curved kerb lines to be implemented. This will be added to the list of things to be discussed at the next SCC/STAG meeting. 1.9 Agreed to target Hugh’s time at investigations to reduce strain on his time.
2. Street Tree Strategy 2.1 Meeting arranged with potential chair for meeting on Street Tree Strategy, Liz Ballard. 2.2 Some campaigners are very concerned about Liz Ballard being compromised and not a suitable chair for a meeting. The specific concerns are that the Wildlife Trust receives a small amount of its overall funding from SCC, and that it has to maintain good relations with SCC in the long run. 2.3 There was some discussion. A decision on the chair still hasn’t been made. Others have been approached, but none have yet shown interest. 2.4 An exploratory meeting with Liz is planned in the next few weeks where questions will be posed to ascertain her suitability as a chair as far as STAG is concerned.
3. Third party damage fellings 3.1 Four more third party damage trees have recently been notified to STAG by Amey, and their intention is to fell soon. Of these four, three are scheduled for simple third party damage, one for subsidence. 3.2 Heather pointed out that she and other Steering Group members had met Darren Butt in the late summer to discuss Amey processes around this. They were relatively confident about Amey’s processes around subsidence, as it involved insurers, and a proper monitoring and inspection process. 3.3 However they were not at all confident with the process Amey use to investigate simple third party damage claims. If a resident blames a tree for damaging a boundary wall, an Amey staff member visits, makes a judgement and a recommendation. 3.4 Steering Group agreed that this process potentially opens up many more trees for felling should residents make debatable complaints. 3.5 In the short term Steering Group agreed that these concerns needed to be expressed to Amey and SCC urgently at the next meeting. 3.6 In the longer term robust processes for Third party damage claims need to be reflected in the Street Tree Strategy.
4. Inquiry 4.1 There was a brief discussion. Currently no agreed list of the issues that need to form the basis of any inquiry. 4.2 Helen Kemp and Christine King agreed to work with Chris Rust on this. Paul Brooke said he’d contact Chris.
5. SCC Cabinet changes 5.1 it was noted that Cllr. Dagnall now has additional responsibilities following Cllr. Scott’s removal and that the Cabinet now has only 9 members.
6. Local Groups and the upcoming Local Elections 6.1 Local groups may wish to look at who they might want to support in their area. 6.2 Theresa Green has drafted some questions for local candidates. Local groups may wish to use these in their area. Paul S and Paul H happy to comment on these if required.
7. Roles and Responsibilities of local group representatives 7.1 The question was raised as to how much activity local reps should be organising. Agreed this was a matter for local circumstances to determine. Communication, via whatever means is most appropriate for each group, is the key responsibility. 7.2 SNET has an informative information dissemination mechanism and anyone who wishes to sign up can do so via the SNET website.
8. Facebook Group daily “Pink Boxes” 8.1 Agreed to continue sharing pink boxes on local websites despite one complaint. SG members encouraged to like and comment on these where possible and/or appropriate.
9. Saplings 9.1 STOMP have been measuring a large number of the replacement saplings as they believed they were smaller than the contract specification and not what had been quoted in multiple court cases. Their evidence from around 295 saplings is that 100 or so of them are indeed too small. 9.2 This is not just recent ones from the “dodgy batch” (see below) that Amey records acknowledge are too small, but also ones which Amey records say are the correct size 9.3 The “dodgy batch” of saplings are a large order of trees which Amey had mistakenly accepted and paid for even though they were the wrong size. Darren Butt has openly admitted to this error. No evidence that SCC have requested any action as a result. 9.4 Christine and Caroline agreed to work with Phil to come up with a simple document of evidence to be sent to Cllr Dagnall requesting answers and rectification.
10. Anniversary Celebration 10.1 Cecilie mentioned that she was organising a social to celebrate it being a year since the felling pause began. Agreed that this was a good idea, so Cecilie will continue arrangements. 10.2 Also mentioned that it was John Errington’s memorial party on 24 March.
1. Joint Investigations
1.1 Amey teams are currently averaging one investigation per day.
1.2 Most of STAG observers have now seen at least one investigation.
1.3 Amey pavement crews have been authorised by Arbs to cut tree roots up to 25mm in diameter.
1.4 The works that save trees could throw up information for test cases around the issues of work outside the narrow limits of the contract that could have been done before.
2. Meeting with SCC/Amey
2.1 Notes of meeting have been produced by Christine.
2.2 Issue of straight kerbs raised by Julie Dore. She has stated that the teams have been authorised to be flexible about this within the bounds of ensuring public safety and mitigating flood risk issues.
2.3 The learning from the investigations will be taken into the joint review process involving Amey, SCC and STAG.
3. Ecclesall Road parking meter works
3.1 Shelley raised an issue that had arisen following recent works to dig holes for new parking meters. One hole outside Spencer’s Estate Agents had a root from a nearby tree tracking through it.
3.2 Russell to query with Arbs at next investigation to see whether they had been consulted about how to proceed.
4. Street Tree Strategy – Chair
4.1 Paul B had initiated exchanges with Liz Ballard from SRWT.
4.2 Ian Rotherham has stated that he is willing to be on panel, but not willing to Chair it.
4.3 Therefore Liz Ballard is the only currently proposed Chair.
4.4 Queries have been raised over potential conflicts of interest with SRWT because of some of their contractual relationships with SCC.
4.5 It was felt important that there was at least independent arboricultural expertise to input to the panel.
4.6 Paul B to express our potential concerns to Liz Ballard to gauge whether they were valid.
4.7 Agreed that if there was another Chair we would still be happy for her to be on the panel.
5. Tree Officers
5.1 Deepa raised the issue of the lack of Tree Officer expertise in the Council. Now is an opportune time to raise with SCC. To be raised at next joint meeting.
5.2 Lee mentioned that an FOI found that the contract states that a “Council Tree Officer” has to sign off trees that need felling according to Amey. He will send another FOI to ask for details of who has signed off fellings.
5.3 Paul B and Chris R to raise at next joint meeting.
6. Ombudsman decisions
6.1 Ombudsman has stated that SCC have lied about the information they gave to a resident about he Aldam Way alder tree. Has stated that they must apologise.
6.2 Chris R has prepared a press release which will go out after the news about the SYP compensation to protesters has died down.
6.3 In addition a complaint about repeat parking notices has been upheld by the Ombudsman.
6.4 Once the Ombudsman report has been published local groups may wish to take out additional complaints in relation to some of their trees.
7. DEFRA consultation
7.1 STAG response to this would be good.
7.2 Christine has put Woodland Trust information into the document to help with responses.
7.3 Phil will forward Paul S email to Christine to put on Steering Group page.
7.4 Christine will try to amalgamate comments and input into joint response.
7.5 Deadline is 28 February.
8. STAG Aims and Objectives
8.1 Some aims and objectives are on Facebook Page. Slightly different ones are on the website.
8.2 The terms of reference for the talks would seem to form basis of a reasonable set of objectives which may reflect the changed situation better. Only item missing is desire to increase street tree canopy cover.
8.3 Paul B to draft new set of objectives on basis of 8.2 above and circulate for comments.
9.1 Position remains open. Work will be shared around SG while this remains the case.
10. Steering Group Representatives
10.1 Cecilie will be stepping down from representing Crookes, Walkley and Western Road group. May continue on SG as 2nd rep for Fun Group. Elizabeth Mountain will replace her for Crookes group.
10.2 Question of how many reps from which groups to be returned to at a later meeting.
11. Compensation from SYP
11.1 Some queries have been raised about what happens to this money. Stated that this is a matter for individuals concerned and is not a STAG matter.
12. Town Hall 6 February
12.1 Joint protest tomorrow with Extinction Rebellion group.
13. Decorations on saved trees
13.1 There was no agreement on what style or colour should be used. Local groups should do their own thing. Recommended that yellow ribbons be left in place
Finally, today the Chelsea Road elm tree, the 120 year old Huntingdon Elm tree, resistant to Dutch Elm Disease, has been saved.
Many hours were spent on various activities to save this tree, turning it from “just another street tree” to the 3rd most famous elm in the UK.
But we couldn’t have achieved it being saved without all you lovely street tree campaigners out there, particularly Anne Barr who led the efforts in February 2018 to block the unnecessary severe pruning.
Sheffield council says sorry for misleading residents over tree felling
Sheffield council has been told to apologise after a year-long independent investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman found it “deliberately” misled residents over the city’s street tree-felling programme.
No proof for ‘lurid’ allegations against Sheffield tree campaigners made in panel’s police review
Unproven ‘lurid’ allegations that anti tree-felling campaigners in Sheffield had cut workers’ safety ropes and studded nails and glass into trees in attempts to cause serious injury were included in a police communications plan and prominently highlighted in a public report exonerating the controversial police response to protests – despite there being no evidence for the claims made by contractors.
Sheffield tree protesters win wrongful arrest payout:
The most significant news was the announcement in the local and national press about the compensation payments made to seven of our fellow campaigners for unlawful arrest and detention back in late 2016 and early 2017. Sadly the Police didn’t apologise, despite being forced to pay the significant amount of compensation, quite incredible really. We should all be very grateful to those who put their liberty at risk, blocking the felling of trees, both then and subsequently. Without their efforts, many of our trees would not be standing today.
The joint tree inspections with Amey have been continuing again this week. As we write this, since the inspections began on Tuesday 15th January, 25 trees have been inspected across the city. Of the 34, 29 have been confirmed as saved, with 5 needing further conversations. 14 more trees still need to be inspected over the next few weeks from this list. The 60 trees in the different list of trees which are due to felled in 2019 will also be jointly investigated after this, and if done in the same way, the process will take some time.
It’s been a mixed emotion process for all involved. The Amey workers have been great, implementing simple pragmatic solutions to save trees. For that, everyone is very happy. But the simplicity of what is being done, what could have been done for many/most of the 5500 trees already felled, is galling. Perhaps as many as 3500 street trees across the city would still be standing had such pragmatic solutions been used in the past. We can all think of some of our “favourite” trees that have been unnecessarily lost, such as.the Planes on Swaledale Road, all those different trees on Coverdale Road, the two lost on Kenwood Road, and many many more.
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:
Clean Air Talk:
We are delighted to announce another of our well attended fund raising talks about various issues related to the Street Tree Campaign. This one is about Clean Air from loyal campaigner Graham Turnbull at Kenwood Hall on Monday 11th March at 7.30pm .
Cost of entry will be £10 per person, paid on the night.
In advertising the talk, Graham says:
“We constantly read and hear on the news that air pollution is killing 40,000 people in the UK every year but what does this actually mean and what can we do about it?
Pollution is very closely linked to climate change and is being driven by the same activities. I like to think of air pollution as a day to day indicator of the impact that human activity is having on the planet. Unlike climate change, where people may wonder what difference we can make to a global problem, air pollution is caused right here in Sheffield by all of us and we are affected by it on a daily basis.
I am a ‘Citizen Scientist’ building a network of low cost sensors across Sheffield in order to study fine dust particles which are created when we burn things: diesel, wood, coal, garden waste. There are other efforts to measure these and other pollutants but they are usually quite limited in scope. We are taking an idea from the Germans and instead of measuring in 3 places with £50,000 of equipment as DEFRA does, or in 40 places with £8,000 sensors as the University will do, I want to study pollution in hundreds of places with a sensor that costs about £30 to make and can be looked after by anyone with a tiny bit of electricity and a Wi-Fi connection. Some have already been deployed and data is already starting to come in.
If you would like to learn more about air pollution, it’s effects, and what we can do about it, please come along on to the Kenwood Hotel on Monday March 11th at 7:30pm.”
Complaining about Amey
It has been a while since we 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.
Thursday 14th February (12.30pm to 1.30pm) at 90-96 Montgomery Road in Nether Edge – Launch of the Heartwood CD – There will be a chance to buy the CD, as well as to listen to choir singing the song Heartwood. (Note: Should the weather be very wet, the location will change to Shirley House, next to St Andrews Psalter Lane Church)
Saturday 22nd February (Final details TBC) – Probable date of a Bird walk around the streets with our lovely street trees with resident bird expert and loyal street tree campaigner, Jim Clarke
Monday 25th February (7.45pm arrival for an 8pm prompt start), at Kenwood Hall – The next of the Save Nether Edge Trees Public Meeting’s.
1. Joint Inspections with Amey
1.1 SG members involved in the talks updated SG on the conversations held with Amey followed by questions and discussions.
1.2 Chris Rust and Paul Brooke updated SG on the meeting they had held with Darren Butt that day to finalise details of the joint inspections.
1.3 A briefing session will be held on Thursday 10th January where the Amey team, STAG representatives and the independent highways engineers (if available) will meet and be briefed on health and safety issues, and the process that will occur each day.
1.4 The joint inspections will begin from Tuesday 15th January onwards. The announcement of all the details will be made this evening.
2. Joint inspections of the 60 trees due to be felled in 2019.
2.1 Some of the 60 trees due to be felled in 2019 under the SCC plan will be inspected according to Darren Butt.
2.2 However he has also suggested that some don’t need to be inspected because STAG and Amey are agreed about the visible problem. The issue then becomes that the Council will not allow the STAG proposed solution.
2.3 Paul Brooke and Chris Rust have pressed Amey on this. They have reiterated what the joint declaration stated about all trees being reviewed jointly, prior to them being felled.
2.4 Given the points above the ball is now clearly in the SCC court in terms of how they want to proceed and the consequences that will follow from that.
3. Straight Kerb Lines
3.1 Paul Selby updated Steering Group about ongoing conversations with Paul Billington about strict straight kerb line specifications and the political issues that continue to prevent further progress on this issue.
4. Forestry Commission investigation and DEFRA consultation
4.1 Paul S updated SG on the ongoing Forestry Commission investigation. Not much has changed in the last four weeks owing to the Christmas break.
4.2 He also updated people that he had requested a face to face stakeholder event in Sheffield for the DEFRA consultation, as the consultation document had suggested this may be possible.
5. Local Group consultation about the Council proposal
5.1 It was confirmed that all local groups had either had (or planned to have) meetings or other consultations to discuss the Council proposal.
6. STAG Legal Group
6.1 Chris Rust and Russell Johnson had discussed the STAG legal group. It was confirmed that it continued to exist but was currently inactive and would remain so until such time as any actions were needed.
6.2 In consequence it wasn’t felt appropriate for the Legal Group to continue having any representatives on STAG Steering Group.
7. Co-Chair resignation
7.1 Chris Rust had resigned as co-chair with effect from the end of December 2017, but had agreed to stay on for a few months, whilst Paul Brooke settled in to the role. One year on, Chris confirmed he really did need to leave the role now.
7.2 He would remain as Treasurer and as a member of the Media Group, but would not attend STAG Steering Group any more.
7.3 Everyone thanked Chris for his dedication over the last 3 and a half years.
7.4 Paul Brooke then asked all Steering Group members to think about putting themselves forward to support him as co-chair.
8. Supporter Conduct
8.1 There was a brief conversation about supporter conduct, particularly about the ongoing airing of dirty linen on the STAG Facebook page, and how it was not helping the campaign.
8.2 Paul Brooke politely asked all Steering Group members to give a lead and ensure any heated discussions took place in private if they even needed to happen at all.
8.3 He also reminded everyone that no one particular line of campaign activity was responsible for the strong position we were in currently and this statement was concurred with by SG members.
8.4 It was also agreed that there would be an agenda item about STAG aims and objectives at the next Steering Group meeting to assist manage this issue.
8.5 The moderating rules on Facebook have also been recently refreshed to cover off some of the recent poor online behaviour.
9.1 There was a brief discussion about how “saved” trees could be signposted without removing the yellow ribbon. Local groups were asked to discuss options, and to come back with ideas which could be adopted city wide.
9.2 All SG members marked a sad loss to the campaign following the recent death of John Errington. It was noted how much he had done to protect street trees and advance the aims of the campaign, particularly in the early days and in his local area.