No area is safe from the council’s chainsaws

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I heard Louise Haigh, MP for Heeley, speaking on the radio news saying that she thought that Sheffield Council would only cut trees down if they needed to be cut down and adding that the Tree Forum allows those with legitimate concerns to raise them and adding that she couldn’t see what more the council could do. Further she said that “those opposing it on a wholesale basis must be politically motivated”.

I don’t know what I’m more concerned about – her naive misreading of the situation where residents raised their legitimate concerns or her apparent intent to create a political situation from those concerns.

Let’s not forget that there have been issues about Amey/Council highway tree policies for a long time but it took the genuine concerns of the Supporters Of the Rustlings Trees (SORT) to bring it really to the notice of the public via their petition and other activities.

The council’s Tree Forum came about because of the SORT activities and the promised Tree Strategy (due March 2016) came about because of SORT activities – not because of some long-term vision that the council held about the merits of consultation.

Yes there is political motivation here – the Labour Council (to this observer) is insisting that nothing comes in the way of the Amey contract with its emphasis on all highway tree work being part of the first five years of the Streets Ahead PFI contract rather than a more natural, albeit slower, spread of the tree work over the full 25 years of the contract.

It appears to me that financial interests are taking a massive priority over the legitimate concerns of citizens and of course the welfare of the highway trees themselves.

SORT campaigners have been trying for months to obtain information about the detailed assessment processes used in the decisions about the Rustlings Road trees.

The information provided has been inadequate or not forthcoming despite Freedom of Information requests – perhaps proving that there has been little attempt to find alternatives to destruction of the trees – most of which remember are in good health.

It seems that it is cheaper to cut the trees down now rather than maintain them and cut them down many years in the future when they really have reached the end of their lives.

I would have thought our councillors and MPs would have been in favour of groups of individuals supporting each other where mutual concerns exist.

Caring for each other and their concerns is surely what society is about.

I thought Labour argued that the Conservatives were the ones who were only concerned with their own backyards.

Obviously our Labour party, both councillors and MPs, are just concerned for their own ends and surely this is politically motivated.

A recent Star headline about the chainsaw massacre of trees in Greenhill shows that no area is safe – Greenhill, Wayland Road, Rustlings Road, Heeley – wherever you live or whichever party you voted for – if you’ve got highway trees then the chainsaws are coming to a street near you – and sooner rather than later.

R Bramall