STAG Steering Group meeting: 5 March 2019

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.

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Posted in Minutes from official meetings

STAG Steering Group meeting: 5th February 2019

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. Co-chair
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

14. Next meeting – 5 March 2019, venue tbc

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Latest #saveshefftrees Update – w/e 15th February 2019

Hello everyone,

Latest #saveshefftrees update, please enjoy, share………..


Chelsea Elm saved!!!!

So it only took 38 months…

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.

Thankyou everyone

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.

Full story here

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.

Full story here

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.

Full story here

Joint Tree Inspections:

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.

Upcoming Events  

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.

Best wishes,

#saveshefftrees

Visit our lively Facebook Group here!

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Posted in Blog, Court cases, Healthy Felling, News, Uncategorized

STAG Steering Group meeting: 8th January 2019

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. AOB
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.

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Chatsworth Road – First Joint Tree Inspection

Paul Brooke, the STAG Chair reports:

Very interesting morning observed by a happy crowd. So what was the issue with this tree?

Before starting any work we discussed the displaced kerbs and cracked and raised tarmac around the lime tree. Amey felt that it was likely that a significant root had forced out previous kerbs and the thin kerbs fitted a few years ago had collapsed. Amey concerned that it may not be possible to put a sufficient foundation in place for any new kerbs. Our engineer felt that even if this was the case, there would be options such as forming a concrete kerb on site but we needed to excavate first.

Amey crew decided not to wait for the compressor and airspade (that hadn’t arrived) and decided to get on and remove kerbs and soil by hand to see what was what. 10 minutes later they had found a perfectly intact concrete foundation and scraped back soil to discover that there was plenty of room to reinstall a full standard kerb. Blimey.

Later, after tarmac removed and the airspade was used to clear soil, it was also evident that the main tarmac lifting and crack in pavement was as a result of a root 10 – 15cm below the pavement height and that new tarmac could be relaid easily.

Agreed solution? Reinstall standard kerbs bedded on cement, supported on roadside by cement fill and backfil with mulch. Couple of minor small surface roots 1-2cm diameter removed by the supervising arbs. Enlarge tree pit and re tarmac pavement.

Nothing technical, nothing unusual. Exactly what campaigners have been saying well before the conflict on the streets brought things to a head.

This is what SCC and Amey based their original felling decision on – taken from the data they published. “Kerbs, f/w and edgings all disrupted. No repairs visible”

All in all it took 4 hrs, of which 2 hrs, were waiting for things to arrive and marshalling the Pink Panthers (pictured in fetching pink hi-vis jackets). Couple of hours work to complete the tarmac tomorrow.

“Chatsworth Road 1st Inspection, finished kerbThe finished kerb line.

How do we feel? Happy that 1 tree has been retained and furious at the 6 lost there and the 1,000’s needlessly felled for the failure of SCC and Amey to do reasonable on-site investigation.

Supporter Neil Furmidge who attended the inspection comments:

“…at some point the pit has been tarmacced over. The other interesting thing is that at some point someone has replaced the kerb stones with half width kerb when there was absolutely no need to do so. If they had cleared the soil (with a normal spade!) they would have seen that there was plenty of space for a full size kerb properly set on original cement foundations that were in perfect condition. The trees have done well given bad surfacing work and have been blamed for the poor condition of very poor work in recent past.”

 

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The Big Issue namechecks STAG!

“The Big Issue: Top 100 ChangemakersSTAG’s campaigning efforts have been recognised by The Big Issue in their list of Top 100 Changemakers. You’ll need to take my word for it as the print on the cover image is too small to read.

We are all extremely proud to be part of a citizen-powered environmental movement that has had positive impacts reaching far beyond Sheffield.  So much so that we have even started to influence national policy.

Posted in Uncategorized

Latest #saveshefftrees Update – w/e 11th January 2019

Hello everyone,

Happy New Year and here’s to a year without mindless destruction of perfectly healthy trees, talking of which………

Upcoming joint inspections with Amey

As you will (or maybe will not!) know, there will be a process of joint inspections with Amey for a significant number of the currently threatened trees over the next few weeks.

It has now been agreed that these will begin on Tuesday 15th next week. The full text of the announcement from Paul Brooke (co-chair of STAG) is as follows:

IMPORTANT STREET TREE Joint Investigation/assessment – DUE TO START TUESDAY 15th Jan

There are a total of 45 trees that, as per the Council’s new proposal, are listed for ‘reinvestigation’ and are due to have an on-site assessment/investigation to see if an engineering solution can be applied. There are a further 60 trees that they say they need to fell in 2019 and these will also be subject to an on-site assessment/investigation. There are some WW1 memorial trees that are now ‘retained’ but that will need some investigation work to identify the appropriate engineering solution.

We have been in discussion with Amey on the process as set out in the Joint Statement and we want to assure you of the following;

1. Amey will notify residents adjacent to any trees due for investigation with a hand delivered letter.

2. Amey have assembled a ‘specialist team’ to carry out investigation works in public and in liaison with independent highways engineers offering their support to STAG

3. NO decision or action to fell a tree will be taken during the investigation. The crew will not have a chipper on tow.

4. If the crew can use an engineering solution and repair the kerb/pavement to the standard required by the Council, they will complete the work that day or the following day depending on time available.

5. If they are not able to fix the problem they will discuss this with our engineer and we will produce a joint report setting out what Amey and what our engineer recommend.

6. If our Engineer is not available on the day Amey inspect the tree, Amey will remove the kerb/tarmac as required and leave the site exposed (protected by barriers) so that our engineer can assess when available.

7. If Amey conclude they cannot resolve the problem and after our engineer has assessed the site, Amey will make the site safe with a temporary repair and refer the tree to SCC for a decision. We are in discussion with SCC about how this information, including the CAVAT value and cost/benefit of works will be published.

8. People are encouraged to come and view works. STAG reps and local residents are able to enter the workzone if needed to photograph and view works when safe and by arrangement with the site crew. Safety wear can be provided.

It is our anticipation that more trees will be retained indefinitely as a result of this work and we want to support and assist the site crews to be creative and effective in delivering sensible solutions.

Planned work schedule:

Amey are not sure how long works will take as they will be learning as they go!

We think they will be able to do 1 or 2 trees per day. Look out for daily updates in the coloured Daily Alert Box on the main STAG Facebook page here:

TUESDAY 15th Jan 19 – CHATSWORTH Rd, S17 – 1 tree;

Then working in the following order;

CRAWFORD ROAD, S8 – 1 tree;

RYLE ROAD S7 – 1 tree;

STRUAN ROAD, S7 – 1 tree;

TAY STREET, S6 – 1 tree;

THORPE HOUSE AVENUE, S8 – 1 tree;

AGDEN ROAD, S7 – 2 trees;

UPPER ALBERT ROAD, S8 – 2 trees.

STAG Steering Group”

We encourage as many of you reading this as possible to turn up to show we haven’t gone away. But to do so peacefully and calmly as we believe that close to 100% of the trees will ultimately be saved indefinitely.

DEFRA consultation about street tree protection

Recently we made reference to the DEFRA consultation about street tree protection, here is a bit more supporting info for you

Firstly, whilst the results of a central government consultation can be ignored, they are a matter of public record. The aggregated and anonymised results are either published or can be accessed by freedom of information (FOI) request. So if 100% of responses said one thing, but DEFRA did completely the opposite, that would be on the public record, potentially embarrassing, and would have to be justified. So the consultation is not pointless at all, it is a genuine opportunity to share your views with DEFRA.

Secondly, if you’re not sure what to say when responding, here are a few pointers:

a) Consultation can be risky. Popular opinion is swayed by many other factors, including a general lack of knowledge about the positive benefits of living alongside street trees vs the inconveniences they might cause e.g. leaf litter.  Therefore opinions offered through consultation may be far removed from evidence-based decisions.

b) The definition of what an acceptable consultation is needs to be defined, give specific evidence about the flaws of the unmarked brown envelope used in Sheffield’s ITP process, plus many other specific details

c) The reasons for deciding to fell need to be detailed and transparent – Saying a tree is “Damaging” is not sufficient. Why can’t simple virtually costless patch and repair solutions not be used

d) That in no circumstances should they be exempt from consulting – even with emergency fellings, councils should be forced to give transparent retrospective justification

e) We’re glad that there will be duty to report on all tree felling in relation to their street tree stock – Transparency is the greatest form of disinfectant

g) We’re glad there will be guidance on what constitutes a good Tree and Woodland Strategy

h) That the proposals still don’t go far enough. The current interpretation of the Forestry Act (1967) and how it relates to the Highways Act (1980) gives too much freedom to fell street trees without proper justification. Either that same legislation needs reinterpreting, or changing, to strengthen street tree protection.

Wouldn’t it be great if hundreds of you reading this email took the 20 minutes to respond in a similar way? I therefore strongly encourage you to contribute at: https://consult.defra.gov.uk/forestry/protecting-trees-and-woodlands/

Complaining about Amey

It has been a while since weI mentioned complaints about Amey. Back in April 2017, an organisation called Sheffield Residents Holding Amey to Account (SRHA) was established to make it easier for residents to make genuine complaints about the shoddy work of Amey in Sheffield. The reason we did this was because it was really hard to navigate the Sheffield Council website to find the way to complain. So the website http://srha.site was established as an easy to use form to make a complaint.

Since then, our estimate is that around 10% of all the complaints made about Amey in Sheffield have been directed through our site. Even as early as one month into the site being live, Amey workers were heard talking to themselves about how they’d better be more careful in their work as more complaints were being made by “tree huggers via their new website.”

So we’d just like to re-promote this site, and encourage you all to use it to make genuine complaints. They don’t have to be tree related, although some are (issues with saplings or tarmacking up to tree trunks). Many in the winter are about the dangerous slippy new surfaces. What about the fact that Amey seem to be only sweeping leaves once a year, or only after people complain? Are you happy about that? Or the constant no parking notices that never turn into actual street work? Or the shoddy new road surfaces on some roads? Or the surfaces that break up after less than a year? Or blocked drains? Or street light issues?  

We walked down Montgomery Road last week, which is only about 450 metres long, and counted 20 separate issues worthy of complaining about. It is the same on all roads.

But are you actually complaining? Are you holding Amey to account for its shoddy work?

Making the initial complaint via http://srha.site takes less than 5 minutes. You’ll then need to keep on at Amey, when they eventually respond to you, which should be within 5 days. They may try to fob you off. Don’t give up, keep escalating the issue if you aren’t happy. Copy in your local Councillors or Cllr Lewis Dagnall if the issue is dragging on. Keep on at Amey and make sure your complaint is resolved to your satisfaction.

It’s Our City!

We’’ve been flagging the efforts of It’s Our City since it launched its petition in late August. Whilst not a street tree campaign, many of the leading members of the organisation came from the street tree campaign, and set the organisation up when they learned just how Sheffield Council worked (or didn’t work). In these quiet times (for some!) with no felling going on, we encourage all who have the time to get involved in It’s Our City. Signing the petition is easy, if you haven’t already, see the link below. But even better would be to get more involved and join in efforts to encourage more people to sign.

The petition is still live. If you haven’t yet signed the petition, then can we politely ask that if there is one thing you do this weekend, please sign it if you haven’t already! You can do so at the following weblink:

https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/sheffield-peoples-petition/

Best wishes,

#saveshefftrees

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Posted in Blog, Citywide Tree Preservation Order, Council tree talks, Court cases, Educational visits, Healthy Felling, News
Crowdfunder: street trees legal fund

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

Heartwood TiCL trail

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

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