Mrs Mason’s naive letter

Save the trees campaign on Rustlings Road in Sheffield
Save the trees campaign on Rustlings Road in Sheffield
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I am writing in response to Mrs Mason’s letter, (Tree petitioners are full of self-interest), published in the Star on January 13, 2016.

Mrs Mason’s letter naively, (at least I hope it’s naivety), perpetuates every myth peddled by SCC’s Streets Ahead and Amey over the last seven months of people trying to save the healthy, mature roadside trees of Sheffield.

Apparently, campaigning about trees and protecting people’s long-term health and wellbeing is selfish; while SCC’s Streets Ahead and Amey prioristing profit over people is selfless.

Mrs Mason, (who is prolific on this topic on Sheffield forum), writes that campaigning residents’ “…main interest is in preserving the value of their properties…”

Even if this inflammatory and inaccurate comment were true, it’s impossible for 14,955 people who have signed the SORT petition to save 12 trees on Rustlings Road to live on Rustlings Road. So, something much bigger is going on here despite attempts to make it look NIMBY. SCC’s Streets Ahead have been trying that manipulative tactic for months. Sheffielders are a canny lot and we aren’t easily fooled.

Apparently, Mrs. Mason says, ‘…every letter dealt with and every meeting held on this issue is taking money away from the rest of the city where money is desperately needed.” I have never seen such an inaccurate piece of emotional blackmail in my life.

Firstly, SCC’s £2.2 billion Streets Ahead budget more than covers any scrutiny processes and they should have budgeted for anyway. No one is begging from Peter to pay Paul. It does and should come out of that budget.

Besides, the Highway Tree Advisory Forums and Independent Tree Panel were Coun Fox’s idea – despite campaigners’s objections to them – to save face and Labour votes.

Mrs. Mason adds: “…there is a financial cost in preserving older trees, however healthy, which is much in excess of the cost of culling.” Says who? Mrs Mason seems to have got access to the cost: benefit analysis for our city’s trees which campaigning residents have been asking for, for months.

Perhaps she’d like to share them because we can’t even get them using the Freedom of Information Act. But what we can say is, just as one example, Flexi-Pave is more cost-effective to use to retain a mature, healthy roadside tree than planting and maintaining a sapling.

We are also told: “The city has to be as accessible and safe for as many residents as possible.” Who said otherwise? Sustainable tree management is not mutually exclusive to safety or accessibility. No one is anti-improvement. Many of the campaigners have relatives with disabilities or are disabled themselves. As one campaigner with disabilities on a tree march said: “Stop using me as an excuse to fell trees”.

With £2.2bn in the kitty, there’s room for any necessary improvements to reduce any residual risks – and still keep the trees.

Self interest? Sounds like Mrs Mason has a few of her own to have taken so much time out to present the arguments of the well-paid Streets Ahead officers and attack those volunteers who are working tirelessly, without the constant leave of absences taken by certain elected senior councillors such as CounTerry Fox and Coun Julie Dore, to save our city’s roadside trees – for the good of all.

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