STAG Steering Group meeting notes 1st September 2020

1. Joint Investigations

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

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

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

2. Further Trees Identified for Felling

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

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

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

3. Street Tree Strategy Partnership Group

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

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

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

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

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

4. Tree Disease Conference

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

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

5. Reformation of STAG

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

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

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

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

6. Allegations of poisoning of street trees

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

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

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

7. Reporting dead/dying saplings

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

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

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STAG Steering Group notes: 7th July 2020

1. Joint Investigations

1.1 No progress since last month.

1.2 Paul S offered to contact Karen Ramsey in SCC, who works for Mick Crofts, to see if he could get her to prompt Mick.

2. Street Tree Strategy Meeting

2.1 Paul S referred everyone to the outcome of the latest meeting which had been posted on the STAG Steering Group Facebook page the week before.

2.2 A query was raised about progress on volunteer street tree wardens. Paul S stated that progress was painfully slow. Initially because of SCC delays and more recently because of delays by Amey.

2.3 Christine mentioned the upcoming Sheffield Tree Week, starting next week, where the Street Tree Strategy would be mentioned.

3. Tree Disease Symposium

3.1 No progress since last month

3.2 Caroline apologised that there wasn’t much time to organise for August and September. However she would aim to organise something for October or November, via videoconference.

4. Future of STAG

4.1 No progress since last month. 

4.2 Paul S reminded people of the importance of progress in this regard, given that the SNET bank account would be closing down over the next six months. 

4.3 This means that STAG would need its own bank account and, to have a bank account, STAG needs a constitution.

4.4 It was emphasised that STAG also needed a constitution to make progress on a future as a membership organisation and to bring in fresh blood to create new impetus.

4.5 Heather and Russell agreed to try to take this forward.

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STAG Future: Inaugural Meeting: 19th August 2020

Present: Shelley C, Russell J, Helen K, Heather R, Valentina B, Mark, Carol C, Joy B, Richard W, Nicola G, Christine K, Ruth H, Marika P, Justin B

31 people expressed interest so turnout good. Valentina is here as an observer.

Agenda Items

1. What type of organisation should it be?

We only need a loose structure at present – we haven’t precisely decided what we will do and form follows function.

Initial consultation at event suggested that an Unincorporated Association was the best fit. Although a UA can have neither paid staff nor bid for funds, nor enter into contracts, we could in future change to something more formal if that became useful.

It can enter into agreements, such as we have currently with SCC and Amey. 

The structure doesn’t need to be complicated – needs constitution which among other things describes the governing committee, required roles, how often it meets etc

The name STAG needs to carry on, partly because it’s a recognised brand that other protest groups reach out to help, partly because our agreements with Amey/SCC are with STAG.

2. What Does STAG Want to do?

Suggested text


The Aims of STAG shall be to protect and to support the development of urban trees and urban green space, especially in the areas where people live, work and travel.

Flipcharts at the previous event listed


Street Tree Strategy – development and monitoring Monitoring Amey Inquiry/Investigation – at the minimum need to understand what happened, gain apology Keeping our trees safe and cared for – whether young or old – not just street trees Providing expertise and support to other campaign groups Expanding awareness of the benefits of street trees/trees Influencing planning applications Wider green space / envirionmental issues

Comments at the meeting, which are broadly similar


Influencing planning, and other bodies Wider green space issues Promote and protect urban environment Health and welfare of green infrastructure – lobby relevant statutory bodies Communication and awareness raising Need to maintain continuity, in particular of current agreements and co-working processes with Amey and SCC Maintain our name/brand as it is widely known outside Sheffield

3. What structure should it have?

Needs a Treasurer and three signatories, one of whom must be the Treasurer. 

Potential roles include Press, Membership, SCC/Amey liaison, Legal, though these don’t necessarily need to be named posts.

Whether or not to charge a membership fee isn’t yet clear – could be a donation as to allow entry to those on lower incomes to be involved. Need to be clear about what the charge is for – currently would be admin as there are no planned schemes. It was noted that there are venues that offer rooms for free.

Could use donations/crowd-funding for larger items.

Membership would control a mailing list and voting rights.

4. Tasks list

 a. Define/describe green urban

 b. Determine legal status of group

 c. Issue Expression of Interest for different roles

 d. Establish voting rights

 e. Constitution – draft by September,

 f. Create google group for interested parties

 5. AOB

There was an offer to help with the constitution from someone not on FB. Shelley to get an email address to Christine to engage this person (Charles).

Inquiry – is wanted by many but needs people who are able to take it forward; currently a small number of people are doing a great deal of work and can’t take this on as well. 

Part of a new group’s role would be to distribute work amongst more people to as to be more effective and take on new ideas.

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STAG Steering Group notes: 11th August 2020

1. Joint Investigations

1.1 After prompting to Karen in SCC, Joint Investigations of the remaining threatened trees yet to be investigated has finally re-started two weeks ago.

1.2 They’ve been focused in the Meersbrook area so far, on Meersbrook Park Road and Binfield Road

1.3 Russell, Heather and Christine all reported that the crew doing the work were excellent, and the supervisor had also been very good, giving the crew leeway to formulate innovative solutions to save trees.

1.4 This included some great work around a very hard to save tree on Binfield Road, with work taking 1.5 days to complete for just the one tree.

1.4 Three trees on MPR are impossible to save using the pre-approved solutions, and would require build outs and/or missing kerb stones to save. These have been sent for review at SCC.

1.5 Paul S asked Christine whether there was any progress from Amey and SCC on publishing details of trees which appear to have been fully saved, setting a date for a meeting to talk about the six or so trees that Amey still want to fell, a timeline for the roads requiring “whole road solutions and dates for the remaining investigations, once the Meersbrook area trees have been completed. Christine said she’d asked these questions of Darren and Mick when she met them the day before, but they hadn’t answered. Therefore a proposal to set up a weekly progress chasing meeting with Mick and Darren to ensure progress with one additional member of SG present was made and agreed for Christine to action.

2. Street Tree Strategy Implementation

2.1 Paul S updated Steering Group members about the Volunteer Tree Warden scheme progress, and also about the additional planting process that Is being tested in Nether Edge and that Joel Shute is testing on Abbeydale Road. Everyone seemed pleased with progress

2.2 Paul S also updated about the 200+ responses to the public engagement exercise so far.

2.3 Rebecca raised a query as to whether Christine or Paul S could think of any topics we could feed to supporters that they could press for in their own responses. Christine suggested a focus on standards when workers are working around trees. Paul S took an action to think about this in more detail.

3. Tree Disease Symposium

3.1 Carolyn Millman couldn’t attend and had sent a brief update. Here has been no progress in the last month but it would be her top focus after her return from leave.

4. Progress towards the reformation of STAG

4.1 Russell, Heather, and Christine updated Steering Group members on a meeting they had had with Chris Rust to take this forward.

4.2 Chris has offered to be interim Treasurer, whilst the new group is being set up. He will also be drafting a constitution for comment by all Steering Group members (and other volunteers for the new group). This will act as an interim constitution whilst the new group finds its feet

4.3 Having an interim constitution will allow a bank account to be set up for the group.

4.4 Heather took an action to write up a brief message for all local group leads to send a consistent message out to their supporters about the next steps.

5. ATMP Dead and Dying Trees

5.1 Paul S asked Christine whether there had been any update from Amey on the new list of dead or dying trees that Amey wanted to fell which STAG had challenged.

5.2 Christine reported that no update has been received. Paul S will chase those in Nether Edge specifically.

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STAG Steering Group notes: 2nd June 2020

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. Inquiry

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.

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STAG Steering Group notes: 5th May 2020

1. Facebook Page Moderation

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.

AOB

“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.”

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STAG Steering Group notes: 7 April 2020

1. Amey continuing to work during the “lockdown”

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.

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STAG Steering Group notes: 3 March 2020

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.

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STAG Steering Group meeting: 4th February 2020

1. Joint Investigations

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. Inquiry

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.

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STAG Steering Group meeting: 7th January 2020

Actions from Last meeting 

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. 

Pro-Legal Work 

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.  

Tree Investigations 

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.  

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STAG Steering Group meeting: 3 December 2019

1. Matters arising

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. AOB

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.

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STAG Steering Group meeting: 5 November 2019

1. Tree Disease Conference

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.

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STAG Steering Group meeting: 1 October 2019

1. Treasurers Update

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.

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STAG Steering Group meeting: 3 September 2019

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.

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STAG Steering Group meeting: 13 August 2019

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. Inquiry
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.

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Forestry Commission Report July 2019

In 2018, the Forestry Commission launched an investigation into the legality of Sheffield City Council’s actions regarding the felling of street trees. Their decision has now been published:

“Alleged illegal tree felling investigation report – Sheffield’s Streets Ahead programme”.

Read STAG’s response to this publication here.

 

 

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Sheffield protesters ‘vindicated’ after council u-turn on axing 200 trees

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”.

Sheffield Council blames ‘exceptional’ pressure for misleading residents on tree-felling work

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.

Police’s secret media strategy with council on tree protests revealed

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.”

No proof for ‘lurid’ allegations against tree protesters

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

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STAG Steering Group meeting: 4 June 2019

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.

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STAG Steering Group meeting: 7 May 2019

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. Merchandising
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. AOB
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?

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STAG Steering Group meeting: 2 April 2019

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. Phytophthora
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. Inquiry
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. AOB
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.

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Heartwood TiCL trail

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

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