We await the truth behind the GMB leaked e-mail suggesting Veolia have been burning waste due to be recycled since 2011. Greens warned from the start that the Veolia contract would offer no incentive to increase recycling as the incinerator would need to be fed waste. Sixteen years on our woeful recycling rate is miles behind other South Yorkshire councils.

Getting to the truth could be difficult. Like Streets Ahead, the Veolia contract is only publicly available in a heavily redacted form that strips out all the key information the public wants to know. What we are told by spokespersons about these contracts and working relationships with the council can never be verified. The Veolia contract may be terminated early in 2018 but Streets Ahead is due to last until 2037. That’s 20 more years of not knowing what the council signed us up to and what is being done to us using the taxes we pay.

The street trees campaign has shown why we have to fight for transparency. The protest injunction court case might see key parts of the Amey contract revealed in public doing us all a service. These expensive and undemocratic contracts need to be seen by the many not the few.

Eamonn Ward
Sheffield Green Party

In reply to http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/row-over-leaked-email-allegedly-showing-sheffield-s-recycling-has-been-incinerated-1-8654665

Greens have been pushing for 20mph speed limits on all residential roads except main routes since 2008. So the proposed 20mph speed limit for whole of the city centre (excluding main roads) is welcomed.

City Ward has the worst road safety accident statistics in the city. It has been left behind as 20mph schemes were developed around other residential areas. Slower vehicle speeds mean not just safer roads but less air pollution and noise, which is very important in built-up residential areas.

Portsmouth’s citywide scheme cost just £573,000 in 2008. A similar trailblazing citywide scheme then would have been massively more cost effective than Sheffield’s piecemeal approach. But this scheme covers a large, clearly defined area so drivers will be aware of the consistent speed limit. The soon to be implemented Greystones to Whirlow scheme is on a similar large scale.

The consultation continues until August 11th with comments to be submitted via e-mail to 20mphareas@sheffield.gov.uk. Find out more about the benefits of 20mph speed limits at www.20splenty.org.

Eamonn Ward
Sheffield Green Party

In reply to www.thestar.co.uk/news/new-20mph-speed-limit-set-for-more-than-300-streets-in-sheffield-city-centre-1-8653360

Cllr Rob MurphySheffield Green Party’s Transport Spokesperson, Rob Murphy, has criticised the government’s latest rail plans, saying they are “a poor deal for Sheffield and a terrible deal for South Yorkshire.”

Cllr Rob Murphy explains,

“The electrification of Midland Mainline would have brought real benefits to Sheffield at a fraction of the cost of HS2.

“HS2’s plans amount to a ‘South Yorkshire bypass’.  There will be no freeing up of local lines in Sheffield and no commitment to the extension of the Sheffield branch line to Leeds.

“But the huge cost of HS2 now means cheaper and more cost effective proposals are being dumped. HS2 will affect transport spending for decades to come. The investment tied up in HS2 is not good value for money for Sheffield City Region and the money would be better spent on improvements to the local and regional train network, in particular the overcrowded cross-Pennine routes.

“Rather than celebrating such a deal, Sheffield Council should be demanding that connections between northern cities are prioritised if the Northern Powerhouse is to be more than a soundbite.”


  1. The proposed cost of HS2 is £56 billion. Electrification of Midland Mainline was costed at £1.6 billion and expected to save £30 million a year after completion.
  2. Sheffield Green Party’s previous statement is at: http://sheffieldgreenparty.org.uk/2016/09/28/sheffield-greens-call-to-scrap-hs2-in-favour-of-improved-east-west-routes/

Sitting through the High Court injunction hearing on Monday, I was struck by the importance of ordinary, dignified people being able to protest against the ruling authorities cutting down beloved trees on their streets. The right to protest is a vital part of our democracy, as the Council noted when supporting calls for an inquiry into the Orgreave picketing clashes in 1984.

The court heard the council’s claim for injunctions against 8 individuals – several defendants are Green Party members, including an elected councillor. The outcome is particularly important because the injunction was also sought against “persons unknown” – ie the general public. Like the felling of trees, the Council says legal proceedings are “a last resort.” This increasingly hollow statement brings the authority into disrepute.

The council barrister told the court the right to protest does not extend to direct action but had to concede there is no legal definition of “direct action.” He was also absolutely clear that the case only applied to roads, saying, “you can protest on the pavements as much as you like.” I wrote that down.

The Council also claimed that protests cost it many millions of pounds. This assertion was quickly withdrawn when challenged to back it up with evidence, such as in the Amey contract. It’s nonsense: published contract extracts state Amey “shall bear any loss suffered by any person which is caused by any Protester or Trespasser.”

What next?  The council didn’t get its interim injunctions but there will now be a trial from July 26th to 28th.  Campaigners desperately need to raise money to cover legal costs so you can show support for democracy and freedom by contributing to www.crowdfunder.co.uk/sheffield-street-strees-legal-fund.

Cllr Douglas Johnson
City ward, Sheffield Green Party

The Sheffield Green Party is today extending its unwavering support and solidarity to each of the 8 tree campaigners being brought before the court by Sheffield City Council.

The campaigners, including Green Party Councillor Alison Teal and other Sheffield Green Party members, face legal action for peacefully protesting against the Council’s disastrous and unpopular tree felling policy, which is set to destroy 6,000 trees across the city.

Sheffield Greens completely and unanimously support the right to peaceful protest, and hope that the court will today recognise the campaigners’ democratic and human rights in the face of the Labour Council’s aggressive and needless behaviour.

Sheffield council meetings are open to the public. Anyone can come and hear what is being said and done by our elected representatives.

But how many people ever do this?

Lots turn out for the big issues but sometimes it’s only five or ten in the public gallery for the monthly full council. Other meetings like Cabinet, scrutiny committees and planning and licensing meetings sometimes have very few or no members of the public to observe proceedings.

I can’t blame the public for this.  It is difficult to give up a whole morning or afternoon to wait for five minutes of something you want to hear. It is more difficult if you have a regular job, a disability or young children. And the conduct of meetings can make them pretty awful to sit through.

The Green Party councillors have campaigned for greater openness. In 2012, Cllr Rob Murphy proposed broadcasting of council meetings, and to allow people to make their own recordings. Both ideas were rejected by the ruling Administration. All other South Yorkshire authorities now have a proper, official online record. The advantages are many.

You can watch at home or work whilst waiting for the bit you are interested in to come up.  You can check it online later, as there is a permanent record.  It ends complaints that minutes don’t reflect what was said or leave out difficult questions altogether.

It also improves councillors’ behaviour.  Green Party councillors always encourage respect for debate instead of the bickering and rudeness between the two big parties. From the council’s point of view, it shows a commitment to openness. It can also reduce the work of answering Freedom of Information requests one by one.

The cost is now fairly low and is something the Green Party has repeatedly included in budget amendment proposals.

Right now, a new working group is looking at making council meetings more accessible. I very much hope that webcasting will come out of it. Please e-mail me at douglas.johnson@sheffield.gov.uk if you have any more suggestions.

Sheffield Council is to review the city’s dental health at a meeting of the Health Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday 19th July.

Councillors will be able to put questions to a range of dentistry and public health consultants from Public Health England, the University Hospitals, the NHS and the Council.

The public can also attend and ask questions.

Green Party Councillor Douglas Johnson first asked for the issue of dental health to come to the Health Scrutiny Committee in 2016 because of the link to social inequality, especially with children.

The consultants’ report to the committee states that:

Poor oral health remains a public health problem with social inequalities both in the prevalence and impact of dental diseases and in access to dental services. Poor oral health has a significant impact on both the individual and wider society including pain, discomfort, time off work and school, self-consciousness and low self-esteem.

Douglas Johnson said,

“I asked for the Committee to discuss childhood dental health in particular because of the link with inequality.  The report shows that children living in the most deprived areas of the city had average tooth decay levels four times higher than those in the least deprived areas.

“Dental problems in childhood have a big impact on children’s overall health, development and education.

“This is no way to start a healthy life.”

Jason Leman, of Sheffield Equality Group, welcomed the move, saying:

“We know there are multiple issues around poverty that can make it much more of a challenge for children and adults to look after their health. Anything that can be done to reduce the impact would be most welcome.”

“In the long run, the best way to reduce inequality in dental health across our city is to support people towards healthier lifestyles. That means providing households and communities with not just support around health, but economic and social support too.”


The Committee agenda and public health report are at http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=6753&x=1

20 MPH zone signGreen Party councillors and activists are celebrating as a long-running campaign by Sheffield Green Party has taken a step further forwards with a new road safety scheme.

Sheffield City Council is publishing a new proposed 20mph speed limit for the city centre.

City Ward has the worst road safety accident statistics in the city and has been left behind when 20mph schemes were developed around other residential areas.

City Ward Councillor, Rob Murphy said,

“It’s about time! It’s been a long battle but we’re glad the council has finally seen sense and made moves to cut the speed of traffic in the city centre. This will hopefully lead to a safer environment for shoppers, visitors and residents.”

Fellow City Ward councillor, Douglas Johnson, said,

“Green Party campaigners have been calling for a 20mph zone on all residential roads except main routes since 2008.

As well as road safety, slower vehicle speeds mean less air pollution and noise, which is very important in built-up residential areas like the city centre.”


It’s scandalous that the Sheffield to Rotherham tram-train will now cost £75 million instead of £15 million. But also that a further £2.5 million of taxpayers money will be paid to Stagecoach to compensate them for the 3 year delay. Originally, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive built Supertram at a cost of £240 million and, in 1997, just 2 years after it opened, sold it to Stagecoach for just £1.15 million. Stagecoach are now seeking more compensation for delayed upgrades on the East Coast main rail line.

Greens believe we need to act urgently to get public transport back into public hands. By taking back individual rail franchises when they expire, or when a company fails to meet its franchise conditions, the government could save £1 billion a year.  That could be spent on improving services and reducing rail fares. We also need to re-regulate buses, investing in increased bus services especially those at risk in rural and other poorly served areas.

Eamonn Ward
Sheffield Green Party

In reply to ‘Ministers considered scrapping Sheffield to Rotherham tram-train scheme due to ballooning costs says report‘, Sheffield Star.

It’s a mystery why the result of the Nether Edge & Sharrow ward council by-election held on June 22nd has not been reported in the local press. I would have thought the council would have asked for this omission to be corrected so that local people know. It was a hard-fought 3-way contest which Labour (2641 votes) won by 132 votes over the Greens (2509) with the Lib Dems getting 722 votes.

Just 2 weeks earlier in the general election, Labour had got more than five times the combined Green/Lib Dem vote in Sheffield Central. Labour clung on in the council election but local people sent a clear message rejecting the felling of healthy street trees and harassment of those who want to peacefully protest against it. A lot more people voted for candidates who oppose the tree-felling than for Labour.

The winning candidate, Jim Steinke, stated before the election: “I will work with the Council to ensure the decisions regarding proposed tree replacements are transparent and well-communicated, and take up any further concerns arising from these decisions on behalf of all residents.”

Cllr Steinke may listen but his actions on street trees will be fully controlled and restrained by the Labour party whipping system. The only councillor to step out of line so far was Nasima Akhter who was suspended from the Labour group in January just for abstaining in a tree-felling council vote. Cllr Akhter resigned in April, triggering this by-election.

Cllr Douglas Johnson
Sheffield Green Party