Tree protests: Nine Sheffield roads not resurfaced by Amey as 'punishment,' Green campaigner claims

A campaigner claims nine Sheffield roads have not been resurfaced as ‘punishment’ following tree felling protests years ago.

Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 12:39 pm

Peter Gilbert, a Green Party candidate, believes they have been deliberately overlooked following the acrimonious dispute which ran from 2014 to 2018.

Today they are potholed and have several generations of repair patches that can damage cars and make cycling dangerous.

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Seven arrests were made at a tree protest on Chippinghouse Road in 2017. It has not been resurfaced campaigners say.

He said: “I personally believe that Amey is essentially punishing the residents on roads that successfully protested against the council, South Yorkshire Police and Amey Plc.”

He spoke out amid growing disquiet over the £2.2bn resurfacing contract which sparked mass protests over tree felling and has seen accusations of shoddy and substandard work.

Which ‘protest’ roads have not been resurfaced?

The roads are: Union Road, Chelsea Road (between Union and Adelaide roads), Kenwood Road, Chippinghouse Road, St Ronan’s Road and Sheldon Road in Nether Edge as well as Dunkeld Road and Banner Cross Road and Thompson Road, from Ecclesall Road to the entrance to the Botanical Gardens.

Green party member Graham Wroe at the famous Chelsea Elm tree at the junction of Chelsea Road and Union Road.

On Dunkeld Road in 2017, Amey sent residents a card stating: ‘We recently informed you that pavement resurfacing work was due to take place on your road in February 2017.

‘Due to the amount of trees on these roads a decision has been made to remove these works from the programme until further notice.’

Five years on, and local councillor Shaffaq Mohammed is still asking the company to return.

Mr Gilbert added: “I just want the roads to get done and Sheffield to get value for money out of its PFI contract. It’s been a real mess. Residents deserve top quality roads.”

Green party candidate Peter Gilbert, left, with resident David Bowles on Banner Cross Road.

Christine King, co-chair of Sheffield Tree Action Group, said she understood why some residents might think they were being punished.

She added: “It's four years since the felling of healthy trees stopped, but many of those roads with threatened trees still don't have those ‘best roads in Europe’ that they were promised.

“There seems to be little sense of urgency, and although the pandemic has caused significant issues, it's a bit underwhelming.

Until further notice: On Dunkeld Road in 2017, Amey sent residents a card stating: ‘We recently informed you that pavement resurfacing work was due to take place on your road in February 2017. Due to the amount of trees on these roads a decision has been made to remove these works from the programme until further notice.’

“It's been suggested it's an act of revenge by the council and although I don't personally think it is, I do understand why people might think that. People deserve to know why it's taking so long.”

It is also claimed that Amey’s staffing and finance were geared towards doing every road in the first five years. But the city council focused on felling trees, resulting in protests, which delayed resurfacing work.

Now Amey is in the ‘maintenance phase’ with reduced staff, trying to finish off and maintain at the same time.

What is the city council saying?

Coun Joe Otten, chair of the waste and street scene policy committee at Sheffield City Council, said they would publish ‘an indicative timescale’ for surfacing works following talks with the Sheffield Street Tree Partnership on Friday 24th June.

It would also see an update on the status of roads with trees where work was halted while the council and Amey worked on the Sheffield Street Partnership approach.

And he ‘understood residents’ frustrations’.

He said: “The Streets Ahead programme continues to improve the city’s street scene including roads, paths and structures. Approximately 1,800 miles of pavement and 916 miles of roads have been resurfaced across Sheffield since the contract began in 2012.

“Following the publication of the Sheffield Street Tree Partnership Strategy in May 2021, an online consultation process will take place before any work begins on streets where trees may need to be considered for replacement ahead of resurfacing works.

“The consultation process gives residents the opportunity to have their say and challenge decisions surrounding street trees through an open and transparent process.

“I understand residents’ frustrations but with the Street Tree Partnership Strategy, and the update from Amey on the options report next week, we now hope that things will move forward quickly.”

He added: “A consultation will be available on Citizenspace for any trees where there is a proposal for replacement. The feedback from both the consultation and the partnership will be used to decide on an outcome for each individual street; with resurfacing works and any additional designs being scheduled into the programme. These outcomes will be available to view on the council’s website, once finalised.”

What does the Amey contract say?

Mr Otten insisted the contract with Amey does not state the firm would resurface every road in the first five years.

He added: “The core investment period of the contract occurred between 2012-2017, when approximately 65 per cent of the roads in Sheffield were resurfaced.

“For the remainder of the contract until 2037, Amey will continue to resurface roads whilst maintaining all roads in line with contract standards.

“The number of staff fluctuates frequently depending on the different projects and the scope of works. Amey also uses supply chain partners and contractors to deliver works.”

Amey did not comment.

Why are Star readers complaining?

In April, furious Star readers condemned shoddy road surfacing work across the city and called on councillors to hold private contractor Amey to account.

Dozens were in touch to complain about defects in the Streets Ahead programme.

The outsourcing giant started the 25-year Private Finance Initiative in 2012 aiming to renew every road - and banish Sheffield’s reputation as ‘Pothole City’.

But a growing number of residents say new surfaces are already crumbling and need doing again.

In some areas, even on very quiet roads, potholes have appeared indicating poor materials, they claim. And on some streets finishing works around manhole covers and drains has not been done.

Some roads have now had two or more repairs, creating a patchwork similar to how they were before Amey took over. Knowle Lane in Ecclesall was resurfaced in 2014 and again in 2017 due to cracks and holes.

In April, Amey said in ‘2022/23’ it would re-resurface parts of Abbey Lane, Burton Road, Psalter Lane, Blackstock Road, Greystones Road, Jenkin Road and Lodge Lane, and all of High Storrs Road. A further 10 would be inspected. And a sub-contractor would repair ‘sub-standard work’ on Long Line ‘in the near future’.

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