Sheffield elm 'will be felled' says council, despite MP's reassurance

Jared O'Mara.
Jared O'Mara.
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A symbolic elm in the campaign to save Sheffield's street trees will be felled 'next summer', the council has confirmed.

Campaigners fighting to save the 120-year-old tree on the corner of Chelsea Road and Union Road in Nether Edge were given a glimmer of hope this week when Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O'Mara said he had been told it would not be felled.

Campaigners at the Vernon Road oak.

Campaigners at the Vernon Road oak.

The tree is one of about 600 that are due to be cut down before the end of the year as part of the council's Streets Ahead PFI partnership with Amey.

Mr O'Mara, who met with the council last month, told constituents that 'contrary to reports' it would not be felled.

Cabinet member for the environment Bryan Lodge had said it would be pruned and would 'not quite look the same', the new Labour MP added.

Mr O'Mara also told campaigners there was a chance an oak in Vernon Road, Dore, could be saved using 'community infrastructure levy' money paid by developers. Work could cost £10,000, he said.

Artist Dan Llywelyn-Hall with his painting of the Chelsea Road elm. Photo: Pixelwitch Pictures

Artist Dan Llywelyn-Hall with his painting of the Chelsea Road elm. Photo: Pixelwitch Pictures

Today the council confirmed that some work on the Chelsea Road tree - a survivor of Dutch elm disease and home to the rare white letter hairstreak butterfly - would be taking place. The authority says decay has been found in some branches which need to be made 'safe'.

This could involve removing entire branches, hence the suggestion the tree could end up looking quite different.

But a spokesman refuted Mr O'Mara's claims and said the elm would be cut down next summer.

'All options' were still being considered for Vernon Road, the spokesman added.

The council says it will replace all street trees that are cut down and plant extra ones across the city.

Mr O'Mara said he was 'not particularly happy' with the news.

"They definitely said it wasn't going to come down," he added.

The MP said he shared campaigners' frustrations but was also sympathetic towards the council, which was 'press ganged' into the PFI contract.

And he said there was little more he could do to try to repair the relationship between the two parties.

"I know we are from the same party but I can no more do anything to repair this relationship than Jeremy Corbyn could do to repair relationships between Tony Blair and so many people that disagreed with what he did with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars," he added.

Councillors are due to discuss the future of war memorial trees in Western Road, Crookes, later this month.