What’s that all about?

Jenny Hockey and Freda Brayshaw (right) who were arrested by police after protesting against a controversial tree felling programme, while contractors started cutting down trees with chainsaws before dawn in Rustlings Road, Sheffield.
Jenny Hockey and Freda Brayshaw (right) who were arrested by police after protesting against a controversial tree felling programme, while contractors started cutting down trees with chainsaws before dawn in Rustlings Road, Sheffield.
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I am writing to record my disgust at the tactics used by SCC last Thursday morning when their contractors, abetted by a dozen police officers arrived on Rustlings road at 5 o’clock in the morning, – two hours before dawn, and started chopping down eight, 110-year-old, healthy lime trees.

The entire road was closed off with patrolled barriers. Householders doors were knocked on by officers in high-viz gear. They were told to move their cars immediately or their vehicles would be towed away. Where car owners weren’t found their cars were towed away. Felling started straight away throughout the length of the road , under arc lights, with chainsaws buzzing angrily.

At 5.30am, two women pensioners were arrested and held by police in cells for eight hours for trying to protect the trees outside their houses by standing under them.

The advisory, Independent Tree Panel (ITP), set up with much publicity some months ago by the council, had written to the council in July to say that, in their view, seven of the eight trees could be saved by using alternative engineering solutions on the pavement surrounding them. In some cases, this meant putting down a couple of narrower kerbstones to replace the old standard width ones which, over the years, the tree roots had pushed out an inch or two!

The ITP recommendations were only released by the council half an hour before felling started.

Seven of the eight trees were felled and reduced to sawdust by lunchtime.

What’s left of the eighth has a temporary reprieve after residents stood in the garden of the house next to it which stopped the contractors due to safety reasons. The councils’ strategy to replace mature healthy street trees that have maybe another 100 years of life, with 10 ft saplings is pathetic. It’ll be decades before their benefit is seen. This is all about profit – for their contractor Amey. The more street trees they can chop down in the first five ( capital) years of their 25-year PFI contract, the better. They then have less maintenance to do during the remaining 20 years. Hence, more profit!

By the way, the new sapling pit, recently dug on the pavement outside my house, to replace a tree they felled in February 2007, is just 10 metres from a huge, mature lime tree. It’s also only one foot from a main gutter drain, and bang over the Yorkshire Water supply lines to our house and our neighbour! What’s that all about then?

SF Johnson

Rustlings Road