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Labour rejects call to rethink Tree Forum

Councillor Brian Webster on Clarkehouse Road

Councillor Brian Webster on Clarkehouse Road

At the October 7th meeting of Sheffield City Council, Green councillors proposed a motion calling on the Labour-led Council to “revisit its attitude towards the Tree Forum.”  However, Labour councillors rejected this call and instead passed an amendment that significantly watered down the Green motion.

Full details of Tree motion to council 7 Oct 15, with Labour’s amendment. Paragraphs in bold were passed, paragraphs in italics were deleted.

That this Council:
(a) recalls that, following the submission of a petition of over 10,000 signatures to the full Council meeting on July 1st, the Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport established a ‘Tree Forum’ to discuss issues around street trees in Sheffield;
(b) further, recalls that the petition that was presented cited the signatories’ concerns:
(i) over the management of trees in the course of the Streets Ahead contract with highways contractor Amey, especially as it related to the felling of mature, healthy street trees and planting of new tree sapling programme, and;
(ii) that there had been insufficient public consultation around the tree felling and replacement programme, including its implementation on individual streets;
(c) therefore regards the establishment of the Tree Forum as a potential first step in restoring public faith and trust in Sheffield City Council’s management of the City’s tree stock, including street trees;

This section was deleted by Labour
(d) however believes that, under current arrangements, the Tree Forum has not lived up to its potential, and in fact risks serving to validate the current tree felling and replacement policy rather than offering the opportunity for genuine changes to the Council’s policy direction to be made;
(e) notes that the topic of the first Tree Forum on 23rd July 2015 was the Council’s ‘six Ds’ criteria for tree felling, and that the topic of the second Tree Forum on 2nd September was ‘sensitive engineering solutions’, and further believes that, although these are worthy topics for public discussion and debate as well as expert engagement, it is deeply concerning that they may not have been settled to the Administration’s satisfaction prior to the first two and a half years of the Streets Ahead Programme (including mass street tree felling) being conducted;
(f) therefore urges the Administration to revisit its attitude towards the Tree Forum and to seize the opportunity that further meetings of the Forum could present for genuine and positive engagement with the public on issues surrounding trees, including street trees; and
(g) further, urges the Administration to ensure that the Tree Forum and the wider public have the opportunity to have a genuine voice in the development of the forthcoming Tree Strategy for Sheffield, whose development was announced by the Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport on 8th June 2015.

Labour Councillor Terry Fox proposed the following to replace d-g.

That the Motion now submitted be amended by the deletion of paragraphs (d)
to (g) and the addition of new paragraphs (d) to (f) as follows:-
(d) notes that the Highway Tree Advisory Forum provides a platform for
an open discussion about the issues that affect highway trees and to
open the Council to public scrutiny over decisions relating to highway
(e) further notes that it has provided over 200 members of the public over
two meetings with an opportunity to convey their points of view and to
hold the Council to account over the highway trees stock, including the
Council’s ‘six Ds’ criteria for tree felling and sensitive engineering
solutions; and
(f) remains committed to working with residents and communities to
deliver this transformational project, Streets Ahead.

Topics: Brian Webster, Broomhill, Central, City Wide, Council, Ecclesall, Environment, General, Sarah Jane Smalley, trees