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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Posted in Legal notices, News

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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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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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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Posted in Minutes from official meetings

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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Posted in Minutes from official meetings

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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Posted in News

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

STAG Steering Group meeting: 11th December 2018

1. Matters arising
1.1 Leaf clearing – Darren Butt has offered to provide large sacks to any groups of residents who wish to do their own leaf clearance on their roads.

2. Talks with SCC and Amey
2.1 The latest version of the statement is now available.
2.2 Figures from SCC/Amey indicate that 83 trees have been saved. 49 are earmarked for further investigation. 173 are phased fellings to be done over a number of years. 60 of these are for felling in the first 12 months.
2.3 Given timescales and the promises made to talk with residents and allow joint investigations into those trees earmarked for phased fellings at present, this proposed process by SCC/Amey at least gives time to work with Amey staff to potentially make additional progress on removing some more of these trees from the proposed fellings lists.
2.4 The promise of a proper street tree strategy was welcome.
2.5 It is highly regrettable that SCC have refused to hold an independent enquire into events up until now. Questions on this will continue to go to SCC.

3. Consultations with Local Groups
3.1 Groups need to be informed of he categories and the phasing proposals.
3.2 The lists of trees in each category needs to be made available.
3.3 Consultations should make people aware of the different categories and their meanings and also that the phasing proposal means that local groups have the opportunity to influence the future.

4. Finances
4.1 Chris gave a report on the current financial position.
4.2 The hard work of various individuals in organising events and merchandising has brought in additional income lately.

5. Supporter conduct
5.1 A suggested new process for dealing with harassment was discussed.
5.2 Paul B and Chris will find some people who can take a balanced view on proposals and take forward.

6. Forestry Commission
6.1 Investigations continue.
6.2 The Woodland Trust will be in communication with the Forestry Commission about the matter.

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Posted in Minutes from official meetings

STAG Steering Group meeting: 27th November 2018

1. Talks with Amey/SCC
1.1 A statement on the talks has been issued. Further announcements are expected soon.
1.2 A confidential discussion on progress took place.

2. Forestry Commission Investigation
2.1 Paul Selby gave a further update.

3. Fellings owing to Third-party damage claims
3.1 Meetings have been held with SCC concerning this.
3.2 According to SCC, assessments for third-party damage are done in two ways. Firstly, a full assessment over time. Secondly, through an assessment of direct damage. The second method is problematic because it doesn’t take account of the value of the trees.
3.3 According to Paul Billington’s figures 48 trees have been taken down for third-party damage. The discrepancy with figures obtained through FOI request is being pursued.
3.4 It is likely that some campaigners would protest at some of the more contested fellings in this category. Therefore it has been decided by SCC/Amey to only fell those in the emergency category for the time being until such time as there is a street tree strategy in place so decisions can be defended.

4. Malicious damage
4.1 It has been reported that person/s unknown have privately cut some branches off a street tree. Rebecca will check. Please encourage people to report any such occurrences.

5. AOB
5.1 Russell reported on an event to distribute a flyer “The 12 days of Amey” on the morning of 15 December.
5.2 The cabinet member will be meeting the public in the Winter gardens on 28 November at 6 pm.
5.3 there will be a stack stall at Sharrow Vale Christmas market on 2 December and Nether Edge Christmas market on 9 December.
5.4 One day conference on street heritage being held at Hallam University on 1 December.

 

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Posted in Minutes from official meetings

Joint Statement by Sheffield Council, Amey and STAG – 13th December 2018

Following more than two months of very detailed discussions between SCC, Amey and the STAG Steering Group, Sheffield City Council have announced a new approach to managing street trees within the 25 year ‘Streets Ahead’ highway management programme operated by Amey.

A joint statement by SCC, Amey and STAG can be seen here.

The scheme will see fewer trees felled and other condemned tree fellings ‘phased’ over the next 10 years. Amey have undertaken to implement a wider range of engineering approaches to retaining trees and ‘phased’ fellings will be reviewed before they take place. Amey and STAG will jointly investigate trees that are planned for felling, with the involvement of local residents and SCC will publish the outcome over the coming months.

STAG has not agreed to any particular plan or list of fellings as we believe it is down to local groups and individuals to assess the scheme on its merits. We are not a formal membership organisation but a forum for various informal local groups so we are not able to form agreements on behalf of the wider tree campaign.

Before the talks started, STAG had four main aims, based on consultation with tree campaigners across the city:

1. An end to the unnecessary felling of healthy mature trees.

SCC’s scheme goes part of the way towards achieving this and further work by Amey and STAG may improve the picture. We welcome the commitment to reviewing phased fellings, giving everyone a few years to reflect before most of the decisions must be enacted or changed. In the end, if Tree Campaigners feel that valuable trees are still being felled without good reason they will continue to oppose the work.

2. An exemplary Street Tree Management Strategy.

We welcome the plan to develop a new strategy over the next few months in collaboration with several partners and under the guidance of an independent chair with relevant expertise. This will be a great opportunity for public policy to be debated and for everyone to develop a better understanding of the complex issues. It will be a great success if Sheffield ends up with a strategy that has widespread approval and other parts of the country will want to adopt for themselves.

3. Using External Expertise.

We welcome the commitment to working together on assessing trees at risk and we hope that the new street tree strategy will provide a reliable framework for this. Amey have committed to involving STAG and local residents in their investigations and STAG will be bringing in external experts in engineering and tree management to inform the process.

4. An inquiry into what went wrong.

Given the many serious questions that have been raised about SCC processes and decisions over the past 10 years we regret that SCC do not wish to do this. We believe that learning from what has gone wrong is vital for the success of future projects in the city as well as being an opportunity for reconciliation between all parties involved in this difficult dispute.

The Schedule of retained trees and proposed phased fellings can be seen here. (Excel Spreadsheet)

Sheffield City Councils Press Statement about the nes scheme can be seen here.

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Latest #saveshefftrees Update – w/e 30th November 2018

Hello,

A very busy week with quite a bit to update you on.

Talks Update
As flagged in last weeks weekly email, the STAG negotiating team held a fourth day of mediated talks with Sheffield Council on Monday. More progress was made, and in case you haven’t seen it, a joint press statement was put out, which said the following, in italics:

This is a jointly agreed press statement following a morning of talks today (below). As campaigners are aware, the group from STAG SG that have been engaged in the talks, have been trying to assist the Council in formulating a proposal on a new way forward for the identified 300 or so trees from the Core Investment Period and for the remaining trees on the highway network over the coming years. We anticipate that the detail of the Council’s plan and a further joint communication will be published shortly.

“Cllr Lewis Dagnall, Cabinet Member for Environment and Streetscene, and Chris Rust and Paul Brooke, co-chairs of Sheffield Trees Action Group said: ‘Sheffield City Council, Amey and STAG have completed a fourth day of constructive talks on the street trees issue, chaired again by Rt Rev Dr Pete Wilcox, Bishop of Sheffield. We intend to do a further joint communication shortly with more details of what has been discussed and publish the Council’s plan for the way forward.’

Bishop Pete added: ‘This morning’s meeting was the last in the series which it was my privilege to chair. The end of this phase of the process is an encouraging sign. I have been impressed by the commitment of everyone involved and I can vouch for the real progress which has been made’.”

So what this means is that we are only a week or so away from sharing the detail of the Council’s proposal, our views on the proposal, and what we have learned from the talks.

Government’s Environmental Minister raises #saveshefftrees cause

More here

Woodland Trust Street Tree Awards

On Saturday last week, we were privileged to join a number of other Sheffield street tree campaigners at the first ever Woodland Trust Street Tree Awards, held at Alexander Palace in London. This was held a year to the day since the Woodland Trust launched it’s street tree campaign. What was wonderful about the day was hearing how the Woodland Trust were inspired to launch its campaign because of what has happened in Sheffield, and what we have all done to raise the profile of street trees in the UK, and how important they are to our health and wellbeing, and how much we love them. Similarly, many other campaign groups from across the UK were there, also up for awards, most of whom said that they had been inspired to act because of what we have done in Sheffield. Many of you don’t realise this, but we have changed the course of history in terms of UK street trees, and one way or another, very soon, legislation that gives more protection to UK street trees is on its way, all because of what we have done in Sheffield.

It was because of this that the Woodland Trust gave STAG a special award, in recognition of all we’ve done. The one sadness we had about the Awards was that only 14 of us from Sheffield could be there to receive the award, as spaces were limited. So many many more people have contributed to where we are today, in so many different ways, big or small. The award is for all of us. Well done to us all!

War Memorial Trees Saved

Good news! As a result of STAG’s negotiations with Sheffield Council, 32 of the 35 threatened War Memorial Trees have been saved.

“In this, the week of Remembrance Day, I am confirming that we have developed a plan to retain 32 of the 35 war memorial trees that were originally earmarked for replacement.”

Councillor Lewis Dagnall

The remaining three, which are reportedly too diseased to retain, are currently being independently investigated.

The talks with the council are still ongoing, however the negotiating team requested that the news be announced prior to Armistice Day on the 11th November.

Read the councils release here.

#Saveshefftrees Website Help

The current version of the savesheffieldtrees.org.uk website has been the work of two writers, supported by invaluable contributions from many experts.

Sadly one of the principal writers, Mary, died earlier this year meaning that we now are down to one ‘staff’ writer, who is also the editor.

Consequently the website is not getting the time and attention it deserves.

Several pages need updating or rewriting to reflect the tumultuous events of 2017 and early 2018.

So we are launching an appeal for writers who are familiar with the ins and outs of the campaign. Even if you can only commit a limited number of hours we are interested in hearing from you. Ideally we would like to build up a small team of dedicated individuals who can help share the load between them – no-one will be lumbered with more responsibility than they can handle.

We are also looking for people with web skills who have knowledge of making and fixing websites. These do not have to be the same people as the writers.

All reliable offers of assistance are welcome.

If you can help please contact: franhalsall@googlemail.com

Update on the STAG Auction Site – Jane Miller

Over the next week, the final auctions will end for the time being, some on Sunday 2nd, in the evening, and the remainder on Friday 7th December, starting 9am and ending with two Panto tickets for Peter Pan in the evening.

The page will still promote talks, events and items for sale, linking direct to seller. A huge thank you to the very many kind donators and generous bidders, more on totals raised later.

Still time, just, to bid on the page and get a lovely item, and benefit STAG funds.

Link for more information and bidding: https://www.facebook.com/STAGAuctionSalesFundraiser/

Gumtree Sales Website

An update on the Gumtree second hand sales site that one of our loyal campaigners has set up to raise funds for the campaign. https://www.gumtree.com/profile/accounts/6de33d70d711eef3b199288e15e396e8

They have put out a call for additional sales items. So if you are looking to clear space in your houses, ahead of anticipated Christmas presents, why not go to the site and offer up some of your unwanted items on the site?

It’s Our City!

The petition is still live. If you haven’t yet signed the petition, then can I 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/shef

One of It’s Our City’s leading members, Anne Barr is also looking for people to take paper copies of the petition, and to work on achieveing signatures from their friends, families, neighbours, co-workers, and whoever else. If you are able to do this, and I encourage all of you to consider doing so, please contact Anne at itsoursheffield@gmail.com

Upcoming Events

Saturday 8th December, 8pm until late (doors open at 7.30pm) at Millennium Hall on Ecclesall Road -Let’s Dance for the Trees. A pre-Christmas social event for all tree campaigners and their friends. Featuring “The Free Radicals” (Sheffield’s biggest dance band) and “Break a Leg.” Tickets are available for £10 in advance fromwww.savesheffieldtrees.org.ukor £12 on the door. All proceeds to STAG.

Thursday 20th December (6.45pm arrival for a 7pm start) at the Nether Edge Bowling Club -A talk called “Bones: Ancient Maya to Modern Murder”by the forensic anthropologist Julie Saul (the mum of loyal campaigner Jenny Saul).Followed by a social for all our loyal Save Nether Edge Trees campaigners, which will start at 8pm. All proceeds raised to Save Nether Edge Trees.

Wednesday 5th Dec 12 noon – 2pm ACTION FOR SHEFFIELD STREET TREES – CARRYING ON THE SPIRIT OF THE TOWN HALL PROTEST – Arthur Baker

The summer town hall protest to save the Western Rd trees has been largely successful with 20 of the 23 threatened trees being saved. To this end we have suspended the twice weekly town hall protest during the winter months. It must be remembered, however, that the Council still want to fell 3 Western Rd trees.

There are still many trees city wide that face the chop. Plus many issues remain unresolved – the disgusting behaviour of the City Council, the distress caused to the Crookes community, the grotesque waste of tax payers money on the hapless Task and Finish Working Group and many other areas of concern. To this end during the winter months we plan to lobby full Council meetings until Spring 2019.

Future lobbies 12 – 2pm will be on the following dates. Council meetings start 2pm:

Wed 9th January.

Wed 6th February.

Wed 6th March (Budget Meeting).

SAVE ALL THE HEALTHY WESTERN RD TREES.  AXE THE PFI. AMEY OUT

And that folks is all for now, please share if you would be kind enough.

Thanks as ever for your ongoing support

Best Wishes

#saveshefftrees

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Further update on STAG’s continuing discussions with SCC and Amey

Jointly agreed press statement following a morning of talks today (below).

As campaigners are aware, the group from STAG Steering Group that have been engaged in the talks, have been trying to assist the Council in formulating a proposal on a new way forward for the identified 300 or so trees from the Core Investment Period and for the remaining trees on the highwaynetwork over the coming years. We anticipate that the detail of the Council’s plan and a further joint communication will be published shortly.

“Cllr Lewis Dagnall, Cabinet Member for Environment and Streetscene, and Chris Rust and Paul Brooke, co-chairs of Sheffield Trees Action Group said: ‘Sheffield City Council, Amey and STAG have completed a fourth day of constructive talks on the street trees issue, chaired again by Rt Rev Dr Pete Wilcox, Bishop of Sheffield. We intend to do a further joint communication shortly with more details of what has been discussed and publish the Council’s plan for the way forward.’

Bishop Pete added: ‘This morning’s meeting was the last in the series which it was my privilege to chair. The end of this phase of the process is an encouraging sign. I have been impressed by the commitment of everyone involved and I can vouch for the real progress which has been made’.”

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Update on STAG’s continuing discussions with SCC and Amey

We have had two sessions with SCC and Amey, totalling three days of meetings, with a three week gap to think about the information given to us in the two-day first session.

At some point Sheffield Council will have to decide they are ready to share their plans with the general public, meanwhile we are willing to keep talking to them as long as there is an opportunity to keep tree campaigners’ priorities on the agenda and make sure SCC has no illusions about how campaigners might respond to any scheme.

We have made it very clear that STAG Steering Group are not in a position to agree or endorse any plans from SCC. Campaigners, as individuals and groups, will have to decide their own response.

After the last mediated session there was pressure to produce a statement very quickly for the TV news people who were waiting outside the door. Lewis Dagnall proposed that we would each make our own statement as it was difficult to come up with something in a hurry worded carefully enough to satisfy both parties.

Cllr Dagnall then gave an interview which was surprisingly forthcoming, indicating that SCC had a plan that included saving some trees from the remaining 305 ‘Core Investment Period’ trees and phasing felling of others. He stopped short of revealing any numbers and obviously that has led to many questions and speculations.

We were quite surprised and Paul Brooke gave a brief response being careful to keep our side of the bargain and not reveal what had been discussed in confidence. The next day we put out a press release making it clear that we had not reached an agreement with SCC and it was not our remit to do so. The Star published a helpful article with a big headline making it clear that the dispute was still going on.

Right now we anticipate further meetings with SCC to clarify the detail of their proposals and ensure that, when they make their scheme public, there will be full disclosure of all the significant aspects of the plan and any issues that we believe are relevant.

The conversations we have had with SCC will be kept confidential to ensure people are willing to speak their mind. That is normal with a mediated process. But it would be unacceptable if either party refused to disclose to the public any information that is significant, especially the reasoning and evidence behind any plans or decisions. There has been far too much secrecy in the history of this dispute and the public will expect openness in any new scheme.

SCC, in consultation with Amey, have taken more than six months to come up with a plan. They have now spent a further month in discussion with ourselves and still don’t feel ready to tell the public any more than the bare bones of the scheme. It would have been much better if SCC had started talking with tree campaigners and the general public back last March and there are research methods for getting to the heart of people’s thinking if they would choose to use them (hint, they don’t include surveys or talking to your mates).

But meanwhile we re-iterate our promise that the STAG negotiating group will not come to any agreement with SCC to endorse their plans for future tree work, whatever they are. That is a matter for the campaigners and campaign groups to consider for themselves. It may be possible to agree a shared approach to some secondary matters such as how to develop a Sheffield Street Tree Strategy.

We also re-iterate the four main aims STAG have in these talks:
1) There should be no further reduction of the mature tree canopy in Sheffield by the unnecessary removal of healthy street trees.
2) Any proposals made should be based on current urban forestry good practice with independent expertise provided by the Council from outside of the contractor, Amey.
3) The future work by Amey on the management and maintenance of street trees should have proper independent oversight.
4) Sheffield City Council should adopt and implement a proper tree strategy for the sustainable stewardship of our street tree assets and the wider urban forest.

We also stated at the start of talks that it was important to have an independent inquiry or review into what had gone wrong and why.

We will also carry on sharing the information from the discussions with the wider STAG Steering Group which consists of 22 representatives from 15 local and specialised groups across the city.

– posted by Chris Rust (having consulted on the wording with the negotiation group, which is Ann Anderson, Paul Brooke, Helen Kemp, Christine King, Paul Selby, Deepa Shetty and Chris Rust)

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Out of Common Ground, Enemies and Trees: on Sheffield Street Tree Festival

September, autumn is setting in, and I’m driving from Devon to Nether Edge in Sheffield to learn about one of the most outstanding environmental stories of our time. The Sheffield Street Tree Festival is a perfect reason and excuse to go back to this city I loved. Returning to a once familiar place is always a little strange. Its picture-perfect, sandstone suburbs, edge of gothic storybook houses nestled amongst broad, gently curving streets and rare arboreal magnificence were my home-from-home for some 8 years. The people I knew then long gone, what is bringing me back now are the trees which have been disappearing, and the people taking action to stop that happening. I wanted to meet them, and to find out first-hand about their experiences and what the future for the city’s trees, and wider ecology in connection, looks set to hold.

The issue affects people living in and beyond the more privileged leafy-suburbs; trees are important for us all. Grown, healthy trees have been earmarked for substitution with saplings across the city. According to experts, the majority of the thousands of trees already taken, (and the 12,000 more still planned for felling over the next 20 years) were (and are not) in need of being replaced. A sapling for a prematurely lost, well-grown tree is a hugely unequal exchange. Executed on such a huge scale it is dangerous folly, and not only because air pollution levels in the city are already too high. Being sacrificed to city council and multinational corporate profiteering, Sheffield’s ecology — which includes humanity — is under enormous threat. Illnesses such as depression, anxiety and adrenal exhaustion are increasing in states of solastalgia as well-being is sacrificed to the tearing out of trees, as the campaigner and writer Joanna Dobson has noted. Through acts and events of indifference and despotism to force tree removals, the democratic reputation of the city council is in tatters, too.

Tall, in their prime. They lift your spirit. Leafy skies to look up to, shelter under, hear birdsong from, see tiny aspects of the other lives they support. A place of memory, a spot to meet friends. Beauty. Comfort, reassurance, inspiration. Marker of seasons, giver of fresh air and life. Despite their value, whether immeasurable or economically assessed, and although they were deeply wanted by the people who live alongside them.

In the independent collaborative report on the Capital Asset Value (CAVAT) of the street trees in Sheffield subject to the city council’s £2.2 billion Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract with Amey PLC authored by volunteer expert, Ian Dalton, Matt Larsen-Daw of the Woodland Trust writes why the hard numbers are important. Although such surveys cannot include everything that trees mean and do, ‘The findings from such surveys … remind … that trees are not passive decoration, but active agents of change working for the benefit of wildlife, people and the environment. Our relationship with the trees around us is challenged. If they are working hard for us, shouldn’t we be prepared to work hard to help them survive and thrive?’

Festival speakers discussed the need to communicate and exchange with planners and engineers using CAVAT language, reasoning and signifiers. On the Street Tree Festival stage, urban forestry expert Russell Horsey shared his experience of this in Bristol and elsewhere. Adopting economic rationales for keeping street trees alive does not mean losing the deeper meaning or the relationships between people and trees: ‘the soft values are still there’. It means working and communicating effectively to achieve what is needed for healthy, sustainable urban environments. He noted the knock-on effects of tree-lined bus routes having been created in Bristol: public transport usage up by 50 per cent, private car use and hence pollution levels down, and qualitative and quantitative high-street retail benefits. This is wonderful for Bristol (although Horsey also noted that in fear of competition, people did not want to share the tree-based reasons for their local success). So, what about Sheffield?

With so much taken and gone, I expected to hear a large measure of embitterment and cynicism amongst the people with such a long fight ahead. I didn’t. The Street Tree Festival was much more the celebration it promised to be: ‘multifaceted, joyful and thought-provoking’, learning and sharing about the conflict and successful peaceful resistance, as well as about the trees.

Sheffield’s experience and people’s creative responses have made it a beacon twice over. In the first sense, the city heralds warnings. Though it sounds bizarre in a land where we still expect democratic process, the cutting of Sheffield’s beloved street trees began without the majority of the public realising what was happening or the scale of what was planned. Prior community consultation on the removal of street trees was poorly attempted, unconvincing,ineffective. The council’s invitations to residents were limited to one brown and unpersonalised envelope per household, presenting much like any old junk mail, rather than clearly signposting access for individuals to vital democratic participation and ecological responsibility. They were, unsurprisingly, overwhelmingly ignored rather than responded to. As Professor Jennifer Saul has documented, the council’s initial public discourse was of improving streets, of removing only the trees that needed to be removed — and when it became evermore clear this was not the truth, authoritarian methods were used to force their plans forward. And the Council simply lied, denying there was any plan and the content of it, until they had to admit otherwise.

When public realisation dawned that a massive process of ecological destruction was underway, people did respond, creatively and with determination. There’s laughter across the auditorium at mention of Councillor Jack Scott’s 2013 request for volunteer citizen ‘tree champions’ to look out for problems and help care for street trees, with Scott having been so centrally involved in the destructive policy of felling so many healthy trees. With the laughter came the comment: ‘he got his tree champions!’. They were just more ecologically conscious, braver, more committed, and more independent- and community-minded than the councillor had bargained for.

And with that, Sheffield has become a beacon in another sense: a torchlight for others experiencing similarly drysmian politics and environmental degradation. Local community campaign groups sprang up, linked, communicated and co-ordinated. Their organisation throughout the city under the umbrella group Sheffield Street Tree Action Groups (STAG) demonstrate concrete working examples of successful, peaceful, direct actions, how to create them, and reach out for effective support. Publishing videos of people, often pensioners, risking their physical well-being by chaining themselves to trees and being roughly handled by security workers are obvious headline moments in the campaign. Sharing knowledge of the law and its due process is, as ever, key for protesters in such circumstances.

But there’s been more: yarn-bombing and craft decorations, messages of love for the trees in chalk graffiti, poetry and singing, applications for Tree Protection Orders (which are, it is worth noting, in legal hierarchy trumped by Highways), connections made with experts, and the making of art, individually and in community. Many examples decorated the grounds and entrance at the Street Tree Festival, placards, and collections of tree drawings that seen together are affecting in their differences of colour, styles, perspectives, details, all the while portraying affection, contemplation, awe, wonder, and mystery within each of unknown connection between the sketcher and what a tree is to them.

Visual artist Lynne Chapman’s talk on bringing the urban sketching movement into play into the campaign was inspiring and instructive. Urban sketching is about going out into the world and taking time to stop being busy, to observe and simply to be, to rest in the sketching of something, portraying what is seen. She emphasised ‘it’s about process, not result — you do not have to be an artist’. She also spoke of the effect of the tree crisis on her community; how she now ‘knows her neighbours’, people to whom she would before have said little more than ‘hello’. Many of her campaign drawings are of the Sheffield tree fellings and protests taking place.

For me, the most touching story was of what happened on Armistice or Remembrance Day 2017, when some 100 people gathered to draw the trees on the Western Road alongside Chapman. As I looked through a large collection of drawings outside the main door, someone explained that each one of the Western Road trees had been planted in memoriam of a soldier killed in the First World War. And all of the soldiers represented had been to the primary school on that very street. Given the role of education in producing James Joll’s ‘mood of 1914’ — the nationalistic beliefs and sentiments that drove popular support for the war — the placing of these trees is particularly poignant, the memory more than important.

The Sheffield Street Tree conflict may seem a long way and very different from the history of the First World War. But Sheffield is just one example of a phenomenon of environmental conflicts around the world in which deaths are the result and financial gain above well-being the cause. There are parallels in all conflicts, and there are responses other than violence to unwanted situations — whether damaged pavements and roads, inequality of resources, environments and ownership, or harsh changes to one’s home environment.

When common enemies effect bringing people together, recognition and creative use and appreciation of that — despite whatever suffering has been caused — is a key step in working towards peaceful transformation of a conflict. Another is realising how common ground, and air, and language, and cares, are also shared. Sheffield’s street tree campaigners seem to know this well.

From ‘Fallen Boys and Standing Trees’: Urban sketchings of the First World War memorial street trees, Western Road, Sheffield, England on display at the Sheffield Street Tree Festival 2018.

The first Sheffield Street Tree Festival was held on Saturday 29th September 2018, beginning with a choice of bird, elm and tree walks and continuing in the Merlin Theatre and its grounds in Nether Edge. Alongside of yoga, stalls, singing, placards, and conversation outside on the lawn, speakers in the theatre included the poet Robert Macfarlane, artist Nick Hayes, novelist Gregory Norminton, writer Peter Fiennes, artist Lynne Chapman, Dr Nicola Dempsey, David Elliott (Chief Executive of Trees for Cities), Rebecca Hammond (STAG), Russell Horsey and Joe Coles (Woodland Trust). Professor Jennifer Saul and Dr Katharine Cox chaired the panels. Local people from the campaign also spoke, and after copies of Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris’s The Lost Wordswere presented to representatives of Sheffield schools, a community choir sang ‘Heartwood’, a poem written by Robert Macfarlane especially for Sheffield, but also as ‘a charm-against-harm for all trees everywhere threatened with unjust felling’.

Thank you to Paul Selby for his insightful talk and walk on Elm trees.

The full programme and further information can be found here:

https://sheffieldstreettreefestival.wordpress.com

Crowdfunder request to help cover Sheffield tree protectors’ Court costs:

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/sheffield-tree-protectors-court-costs

Further sources:

STAG — Sheffield Tree Action Groups:

https://savesheffieldtrees.org.uk

CAVAT Valuation Report on Street Trees in Sheffield:

https://savesheffieldtreesorguk.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/cavat-valuation-report-on-street-trees-in-sheffield.pdf

Professor Jennifer Saul — Sheffield Trees Blog:

https://sheffieldtreeblogposts.wordpress.com/

https://medium.com/@jennifersaul/lies-violence-and-spurious-arrests-in-sheffield-4b8c47c0bb19).

Joanna Dobson ‘Of Street Trees and Solastalgia’:

https://joannadobson.com/2018/04/13/of-street-trees-and-solastalgia/

On air pollution in the city:

https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/revealed-air-pollution-hot-spots-in-sheffield-where-deadly-fumes-are-more-than-twice-legal-limit-1-8533487

For more on the politics and ecology of the crisis:

‘ECOS 39 (3): ‘The city that hates trees’ — Standing up to the Sheffield Street-Tree Slaughter — British Association of Nature Conservationists’:

https://savesheffieldtrees.org.uk/2018/08/03/ecos-39-3-the-city-that-hates-trees-standing-up-to-the-sheffield-street-tree-slaughter-british-association-of-nature-conservationists/

Chalked pavement in Nether Edge, Sheffield, and a tree decorated with heartfelt campaign messages at the Street Tree Festival.

Original article here:

https://medium.com/@mireillewriting/out-of-common-ground-enemies-and-trees-on-sheffield-street-tree-festival-6f3d09ad9530

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Crowdfunder: street trees legal fund

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

Heartwood TiCL trail

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