Tree protests 'wasting millions of taxpayers' money', claims Sheffield councillor

Amey operations director Darren Butt and Sheffield Council's cabinet member for environment Bryan Lodge
Amey operations director Darren Butt and Sheffield Council's cabinet member for environment Bryan Lodge
0
Have your say

A Sheffield city councillor has accused tree campaigners of wasting 'millions' of taxpayers' money.

Coun Bryan Lodge criticised the regular protests against tree felling around the city, saying they were getting in the way of 'lawful' work.

Tree campaigner Helen McIlroy with fellow protestors Dr Simon Crump, Calvin Payne and Dave Dillner in Nether Edge in Sheffield. Picture Tony Johnson

Tree campaigner Helen McIlroy with fellow protestors Dr Simon Crump, Calvin Payne and Dave Dillner in Nether Edge in Sheffield. Picture Tony Johnson

Responding to questions from the public at Friday's budget-setting meeting, he denied that delays to the Streets Ahead programme were hitting private contractor Amey's profits.

The cabinet member for environment said instead that costs resulting from protests, injunctions, Freedom of Information requests and court cases were borne by the council, and therefore taxpayers.

And Coun Lodge said most city residents wanted the council to get on with tree replacement and road resurfacing.

"We anticipate the cost to the council and taxpayers will run into millions," he said. "That includes court costs, the cost of new crews coming in to bring work back up to speed.

Councillors set the 2017/18 budget.

Councillors set the 2017/18 budget.

"There are extra costs for dealing with rescheduling work.

"It's not Amey's profits, it's local taxpayers. On a day when we are here making very hard decisions it's very difficult to accept."

Read more:

Charges dropped against Sheffield councillor and eight other campaigners arrested over city tree-felling

Sheffield Council passes ‘ambitious’ budget with £40m of savings despite Town Hall protest

Tree campaigner Calvin Payne - who was due to stand trial accused of obstructing the felling of a tree on Marden Road, Nether Edge, last November, before charges were dropped last week - asked Coun Lodge whether it was 'in the public interest' for someone to be 'arrested, detained and charged for something that doesn't seem to be a crime in the first place'.

Coun Lodge said it was for the police to talk about arrests.

He said the council supported people's right to peaceful protest, but it also had duties to repair the city's roads.

"The world has moved on and we are facing big costs to the council taxpayers through delays to this project," he said.

"I do support the right to peaceful protest. I recognise that right. I recognise that we have a duty to ensure people have that right. It was exercised when the Lib Dem conference came to Sheffield.

"But what we ask is protesters allow the council and Amey to conduct its lawful duties.

"The lawfulness has been tested in the High Court.

"We ask that protesters conduct themselves responsibly.

"The vast majority of the people of Sheffield are now starting to say 'this is costing money - get on with it'."

Coun Lodge rebuked an accusation that he had not read the Streets Ahead contract, saying he had seen the 'relevant' sections.

And council leader Julie Dore confirmed that she did not sign the contract herself.

Today’s top stories:

Sheffield Council passes ‘amibtious’ budget with £40m of savings despite Town Hall protest

Town Hall in the frame for new Central Library

Beloved Sheffield football coach passes away aged 57

Watch: From busking in Doncaster to performing on The Ellen DeGeners show for Rotherham youngster

Exclusive: 200 criminal cases in Yorkshire in ‘miscarriage of justice’ probe

'I did it, I bit his ear off' - Sheffield woman jailed for attacking partner with her TEETH after birthday binge of booze and crack

MATCHDAY LIVE: Rochdale v Sheffield United - as it happens

LIVE BLOG: Sheffield Wednesday v Norwich City - As it happens

Download The Star's mobile app now for FREE

Get all the latest Owls stats

Get all the latest Blades stats