Sheffield street of memorial trees 'should be restored to original concept'

War memorial trees in Western Road, Crookes.
War memorial trees in Western Road, Crookes.
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A Sheffield war memorial that includes a street of trees should be returned to its 'original concept', councillors have said.

Members of a working group set up to consider the future of the memorial in Western Road and Mona Avenue, Crookes, said that could mean securing funding to increase the number of trees in the street.

Alan Story and Arthur Baker accused the council of not listening.

Alan Story and Arthur Baker accused the council of not listening.

At a meeting this afternoon it was revealed that a bid was being submitted to the War Memorials Trust to try to replace missing trees in the avenue planted in 1919 to commemorate former Westways Primary School pupils who died in the First World War.

As things stand 23 of the 54 trees are due to be felled and replaced under the Streets Ahead contract. But it is thought there were originally as many as 97.

Coun Lisa Baines, who chaired the working group, said: "What we are recommending is that the 97 trees be restored, including those that already exist."

The group said the trees were 'intrinsic' to the war memorial and should be treated differently to others in the city. And they suggested restoring the avenue in time for Armistice Day in 2018.

Residents have been campaigning to save the trees.

Residents have been campaigning to save the trees.

Coun Baines said this would be 'subject to funding and subject to agreement with residents."

But scrutiny committees have no decision making powers, so the report will now go before cabinet members for consideration.

Several members of the public spoke at the meeting, with some getting increasingly angry at a perceived lack of answers to their questions.

Arthur Baker said communication with residents had been 'pathetic' and accused the group of not listening to people's views at drop-in sessions.

Dave Dillner, who started the petition calling on the council not to fell the trees, speaks to coun Penny Baker during the working group process.

Dave Dillner, who started the petition calling on the council not to fell the trees, speaks to coun Penny Baker during the working group process.

Alan Story said the trees had originally been paid for by the public and the council was now the guardian of 'wonderful heritage'. He questioned why they were being replaced, and promised to picket any event in Western Road on Armistice Day next year.

Marie Miller said she had lived in Western Road for 28 years, and said the council owed residents 'recompense' for the lack of tree maintenance in that time.

And Brian Mosely, from Wadsley, said the trees represented a 'lasting growing presence' to mark lives that were cut short.

Coun Paul Wood asked for the report to recommend effort was made to 'retain as many existing trees as possible by all appropriate means available to the council' - wording which was approved by the committee.

"I don't think we should ever put money before looking after war memorials and looking after people who have died in service of our country," he added.

Coun Adam Hanrahan said he wanted to see a definite decision made.

And coun Rob Murphy said he was 'tormented' by the report and it wasn't far removed from promises already made about other street trees.

Cabinet was asked to come back with a response by September latest.

The working group was set up in response to a petition by Dave Dillner, who appeared in court on the day of the meeting defending himself against a council injunction relating to protests over tree felling.