£300,000 crowdfunding campaign launched in last-gasp attempt to save Sheffield's war memorial trees

Campaigners have launched a crowdfunding appeal in an eleventh-hour attempt to prevent war memorial trees in Sheffield being cut down.

Thursday, 21st December 2017, 8:31 am
Updated Thursday, 21st December 2017, 8:35 am
A remembrance parade on Western Road

Cabinet members last week voted to fell 41 trees across the city, including 23 on Western Road, in Crookes, which were planted to commemorate former Sheffield pupils killed during the First World War.

But protesters are attempting to raise £300,000 to save the trees on Western Road, with donations being sought via a crowdfunding page launched this week.

Richard Motley set up the page titled 'Fund to save this WW1 War Memorial, planted in 1919 in memory of 64 fallen soldiers, as the first step to forming a city-wide tree trust' on Monday.

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Contributors are offered various rewards, depending on how much they pledge, with those giving £20 acknowledged as 'leaf donors' and anyone donating £10,000 being recognised as a ''memorial patron'.

Mr Motley, who lives on Western Road, said: "The council has been quite clear there wasn't immediately any other resource available, but it hasn't really explored the option of crowdfunding. I don't know if it will be successful, but I know it's worth a try."

The appeal has a long way to go to reach its target, with just three people having pledged £540 between them as of Thursday morning.

Sheffield Council says the trees, which are facing the chop as part of its £2 billion Streets Ahead contract with Amey to improve the city's roads and pavements, are all dying, damaging roads, pavements or property, or causing an obstruction.

It says they will all be replaced and 300 new war memorial trees will be planted in the city's parks, with re-dedication ceremonies to be held in time for next November's centenary of the First World War ending.

The council has estimated the war memorial trees would cost £500,000 to save, using engineering solutions, with at least £310,000 needed to preserve the Western Road trees alone.

But the figure has been widely criticised by campaigners, who claim it has been inflated to strengthen the case for removing the trees.

They have called for details to be published showing how the sum was calculated but the council says the data is commercially sensitive.

The council says around 6,000 street trees have been or are due to be replaced during the first phase of its Streets Ahead contract, but claims 65,000 new trees have been planted across the city during the last three years.