It is such a pity that almost all of your printed letters in The Star and indeed your editorial chooses to give such a distorted view of the council’s position regarding trees in our city.
It is a pity because I am sure every single elected member on the council love and appreciate trees and all are proud of Sheffield’s record and reputation - a reputation that could be damaged by such publicity.
So, can I make the facts clear? Sheffield has more trees now than at any time in it’s history, more than 2 million and since January this year more than 50,000 extra trees have been planted and 17 new woodlands created.
However, like most urban cities, we do have a problem with our highway trees, according to an independent assessment in 2006 around 75% are nearing the end of their lives and most of them being forest trees are not suitable for some of our narrow pavements and do need replacing by more suitable types. Not only are the roots lifting pavements, making them dangerous for the blind, the elderly, disabled and for people pushing pram, but they damage drains, wall foundations, etc. and when the council says replacing it means replacing.
Since 2012, at the same time as improving and resurfacing more than 500 miles of pavements, the city has taken down 2,000 highway trees, but replaced them with 2,015 young more suitable types i.e. increasing our highway trees. Even Rustlings Road, which seems to have caused all the furore, currently has 30 trees of which 11 have been identified to be felled, but 20 are to be planted to replace them i.e. there will 39 trees not 30. I wonder if all the petitioners are aware of this?
Can I also make it clear I was not referring to the petitioners for “whinging about some trees in a certain street’ my words were directed at the Liberal Democrates who have accepted and supported the Highway Tree Policy for more than three years during which time 2,000 trees across the city have been taken down and replaced all using the same public consultation excersise. For them now to call for a halt and rethink I am afraid was simply playing local politics and not acknowledging the fact that the tremendous national and international reputation and record our Sheffield has, is not only being maintained, but vastly built upon and I challenge anyone to name any other city which can compete.
Coun Peter Price