Call for review of Sheffield Council meetings after tree debate

Save the trees campaign on Rustlings Road in Sheffield.
Save the trees campaign on Rustlings Road in Sheffield.
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Political leaders are being asked to publicly review the conduct of Sheffield Council meetings in a bid to restore ‘confidence.’

A letter calling for a meeting between the leaders of Sheffield Council’s four political parties has been written by Liberal Democrat Coun Colin Ross following the full council meeting last week, where a debate over tree felling was heard.

Campaigners who presented a 10,000-strong petition at the meeting have since complained about councillors ‘moving around, talking among themselves and using their phones during the debate and when the lead petitioner was speaking.’

Others have said they felt some councillors were not listening, their questions were not answered and the debate was just ‘going through the motions.’

Coun Ross, leader of his party, in opposition on the council, wrote to Coun Julie Dore, Labour council leader, to say: “I am sure, like me, you were disappointed at the manner in which the full council meeting was conducted last Wednesday.

“It did not reflect well on all councillors.”

He has asked for a meeting of group leaders, deputies and whips to review the procedures and conduct of full council meetings as well as conduct of councillors.

He has also asked for the meeting to be held in public, with a public question slotat the beginning.

Coun Ross said: “This involvement of the public will help restore their confidence in what is after all their council and we are here to represent the people of Sheffield.”

Coun Dore said: “We are already looking at how we can improve the way the council meeting operates and will, of course, speak to local people to get their views. This may involve having a public meeting and other ways of hearing the public’s view.”

Coun Rob Murphy, speaker for Sheffield’s Green party, said the party had pressed for full council meetings to be broadcast online.

He said: “I probably would like to go to any meeting on this, because it does reflect badly on the council.”

Campaigners started the petition as 11 trees on Rustlings Road were to be felled.

Their fight grew to a call for city-wide scrutiny of the council’s tree policies and a morotorium on felling by contractor Amey, which is removing and replacing trees as part of the Streets Ahead contract.