Sheffield music star Toddla T has branched out - by using his talents to back the city’s growing tree campaign in a viral video.
The DJ and producer has turned over a new leaf, creating a song for Save Sheffield Trees to protest against controversial felling as part of Sheffield Council’s Streets Ahead contract to resurface streets, replace trees and upgrade lights.
In the music video, which has already been seen by tens of thousands of people online, rising Sheffield grime artist Coco raps: “Whatever happened to us keeping it green?
“True to say I’m part of the Sheffield scene and I’ve got to represent for the Sheffield team.
“What have the trees done to you - leave them - you’re messing with the 0114 region.”
Felling protests have sprung up across the city, from Greenhill to Crookes, in recent months.
The first campaign, to save trees on Rustlings Road, near Endcliffe Park, led to a 10,000-strong petition which then triggered a debate at full council and the launch of a highway tree forum.
Campaigners say alternative methods could be used instead and felling should be paused while a formal tree strategy is set up.
Contractor Amey insists felling is a ‘last resort’ and trees are replaced, although that is not necessarily in the same location. At least 2,000 trees have been felled so far as part of the contract.
Last weekend hundreds of people marched through the city centre to protest over the issue in a lively demonstration.
Nether Edge resident Carly Mountain, from Save Sheffield Trees, said: “Toddla wanted to get involved because he is from Sheffield and it is close to his heart. His sister lives in Nether Edge so she is very interested in the campaign,
“We want to make the point that this is not just a middle class concern as some people have said, it is something that will affect young people.
“Everybody is just astonished by what is going on because Sheffield is a green city, it is taken for granted, and when you see what is going on with felling it is shocking to everybody no matter who they are.”
In September, Sheffield Council apologised after highways chief Steve Robinson was recorded by a whistleblower saying ‘we’re not interested’ in the ‘nonsense’ reasons people come up with on why individual trees should be saved from being removed and replaced.
Director of regeneration and development David Caulfield has since taken over the trees element of Streets Ahead.
In an apparent nod to the row, Coco says in the video: “You haven’t even got a good enough reason, who is in charge is it Simon or Steven?”
Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac - the partner of Toddla T, real name Thomas Mackenzie Bell - has also posed with a Save Sheffield Trees tote bag, which feature artwork donated by Sheffield’s Jo Peel.
Members of Save Sheffield Trees have also launched a new website to co-ordinate their efforts and are running a school drawing competition for National Tree Week from November 30.
The most recent tree felling campaign to spring up was against the axing of 31 trees on Rivelin Valley Road, and the issue is likely to feature during next year’s all out local council election, with one independent candidate to stand partly over the row confirmed.
Visit www.savesheffieldtrees.org.uk for more details of the campaign.