LATEST: Campaigners hand in 10,000-signature tree felling petition

Protestors gathered outside Sheffield Town Hall to protest about the cutting down of Sheffield's trees.
Protestors gathered outside Sheffield Town Hall to protest about the cutting down of Sheffield's trees.
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A petition containing more than 10,000 signatures against the felling of trees in Sheffield has been handed in during a major council debate today.

Campaigners hope the debate - which began as a protest against the planned axing of 11 trees on Rustlings Road - will lead to scrutiny of the city council’s tree policies and a two-month moratorium on felling.

There were huge cheers at Sheffield town hall as the petition was handed over to council officials.

WATCH THE DEBATE LIVE HERE

Petition supporter Alan Robshaw told the full council meeting this afternoon that the issue is ‘about people’s lives and the kind of city we want to live in’.

He said 10,000 people had voted for trees - more than had voted for local councillors, and said tree felling did not sit well with selling Sheffield as an ‘outdoor’ city.

Save the trees campaign on Rustlings Road in Sheffield.

Save the trees campaign on Rustlings Road in Sheffield.

Labour Coun Terry Fox, who is cabinet member for environment and transport, told the meeting that Sheffield residents ‘value our trees.’

He added: “We do not pay a single penny more to Amey if they fell 100 trees or none.”

He also suggested a highway tree forum be set up.

Liberal Democrat Coun Joe Otten said council policy should be reviewed to give residents a chance to be consulted about proposed tree felling.

The campaigners needed 5,000 signatures of support to trigger the debate in the town hall but doubled that amount.

Louise Wilcockson, from Save Our Rustlings Trees, said: “This debate is about the kind of city that Sheffielders want to live in, now and in the future.

“This is coming to a tree near everyone soon, if they don’t stand up and be counted and help us do something now.”

A peaceful rally was held outside the town hall before the meeting, which started at 2pm.

Council contractor Amey has said the trees on Rustlings Road need to be removed because they are damaging the pavement, causing access and safety problems, and one is also diseased.

Across the city trees can also be removed through the Streets Ahead project if they are dead or dying.

They are replaced, but not necessarily in the same place.

However, Sheffield Coun Jack Clarkson has pointed out that one lamppost on Rustlings Road is located in the middle of the pavement.

The UKIP councillor for Stocksbridge said it was ‘clearly a danger to mobility users, the blind and mothers with prams especially double buggies.’

He also said that saplings planted on Ranby Road were more of a danger as they were surrounded by broken and erupting slabs.

Streets Ahead said it was ‘investigating’ the lamppost.

Meanwhile, Green councillors are planning to ask for the council’s contract with Amey to be made public in the debate and for a Sheffield trees and woodland strategy.

Some of the contract is online but most of it is redacted - including the whole of the carriageways and footways works section.

Follow @SheffieldStar on Twitter to watch the session live.