War memorial ceremony planned for school site

Poppies and ribbons have been put on the trees on Western Road.
Poppies and ribbons have been put on the trees on Western Road.
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Sheffield school children could be part of a ceremony designed to raise awareness of the fight to save war memorial trees.

Sheffield Council has listed 23 trees in Western Road, Crookes, for the chop as part of its ongoing Streets Ahead programme with private contractor Amey.

You can go to jail for urinating on a war memorial but the council can just cut these trees down

Residents formed Western Road Remembers in an attempt to highlight the importance of the trees, which were planted in memory of former pupils at Westways Primary School who died in the First World War.

They are raising money to restore a stone plaque on the school’s outer walls which explains the trees’ significance. A rededication ceremony will be held in the New Year, and the group hopes to involve pupils from Westways.

Group member Alan Story, a retired academic, said: “We are going to do it first thing next year and invite pupils and teachers to come out to watch.

“They all study the First World War.”

Groups, including Sheffield Tree Action Groups, or Stag, are also fighting to save the Western Road trees as part of their city-wide tree campaign.

Almost 5,000 people have signed a Stag petition calling on the council not to cut them down.

But Mr Story’s group, while acting in solidarity with the larger groups, is looking solely at Western Road and the war memorial trees planted almost 100 years ago.

“People have said it makes them angry that you can go to jail for urinating on a war memorial but the council can just cut these trees down,” the 68-year-old pensioner said.

“I’m a retired law teacher and I can only question what the punishment is for chainsawing one to the ground.”

About 100 trees were planted in Western Road in 1919 to commemorate Westways pupils.

About 60 of the trees still remain, with 23 due to be felled.

More than 4,000 highway trees have been felled since the start of the council’s Streets Ahead highways programme with Amey.

They have been cut down despite initial suggestions that only 1,000 would need to go.

The council says about 3,000 have so far been replaced, and about 50,000 trees have been planted to create new woodland.

No date for the Western Road work has yet been set.