Councillors conclude Sheffield war memorial trees 'should be treated differently'

21 of the 54 Western Road memorial trees are due to be felled.
21 of the 54 Western Road memorial trees are due to be felled.
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Sheffield's war memorial trees should be treated differently than others growing along city streets when it comes to felling.

That was the conclusion of a council working group set up to look at Western Road in Crookes, where a row of ash trees and a concrete plaque commemorate soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War.

Campaigner Dave Dillner speaks to Coun Penny Baker at a drop-in session.

Campaigner Dave Dillner speaks to Coun Penny Baker at a drop-in session.

The cross-party group was formed in response to a petition by campaigner Dave Dillner, who opposed the felling and replacement of 23 of 54 trees in the street as part of the Streets Ahead programme.

Currently the council plans to press on with the felling.

But councillors in the working group said a different approach was needed to the memorial in Western Road, which includes an 'intrinsic avenue of trees'.

In a report following six months of analysis and consultation, the group said Western Road should be seen as an 'exception to the norm'.

Some of the damage being cause by tree roots in Western Road.

Some of the damage being cause by tree roots in Western Road.

Councillors called for a 'clear and stated proactive war memorial and tree management plan' and said engineering solutions should be used to keep as many memorial trees in Western Road and nearby Mona Road as possible 'where practicable and affordable'.

And while the report referred specifically to the one memorial, councillors said their findings should be relevant to all war memorials in Sheffield 'where street trees are intrinsic'.

The recommendations will now go before the economic and environmental wellbeing scrutiny committee for approval on July 27.

Mr Dillner - who is preparing to fight the council in court next week - said he was not convinced by the working group’s recommendations, and believed the council would still cut down the 23 trees in Western Road.

Amey workers explore the roots around the trees.

Amey workers explore the roots around the trees.

“None of these trees need to come out,” he added.

“If they do take them I will fight them all the way on this.”

Mr Dillner is one of eight tree campaigners are due to appear in court next week to fight an injunction from the council. The authority says they have been protesting 'unlawfully'.

The Western Road memorial was created in 1919 to honour 67 pupils of nearby Westways Primary School who died in the First World War.

Alan Story and Arthuer Baker protest against the felling.

Alan Story and Arthuer Baker protest against the felling.

According to residents it originally comprised 97 trees, a concrete plaque noting their significance, and a wooden plaque naming all the soldiers which has since disappeared.

The working group heard from residents that some trees had since been replanted and others removed for safety reasons, but maintenance had been minimal for the past 20 years.