Democracy is dead
Following a week of deafening silence from the council regarding the Rustlings Road trees debacle, finally after nationwide condemnation of their deplorable actions, Councillor Bryan Lodge says 'we got it wrong' and apologised for 'the way in which we took the trees down'. (Star November 26).
Not good enough Councillor Lodge.
I am afraid I am not convinced of his sincerity, because if the council was really sorry for all the distress caused by their underhand, bullying tactics it would halt this disastrous mass felling programme immediately.
Instead they have announced their intention that next in line for felling are trees on Western Road in Crookes that were planted to commemorate local soldiers killed in WW1.
One wonders what they will do next or how much lower they can sink?
Meanwhile, no public statement has been forthcoming from Council Leader, Julie Dore, no doubt because she cannot defend their unacceptable actions or admit they got the whole thing wrong. What they have done is to alienate themselves with Sheffield residents and tarnished this city’s reputation beyond repair.
However, after attending the STAG (Sheffield Trees Action Group) rally in Endcliffe Park on Saturday, which was an uplifting experience, on seeing the huge turn-out of tree supporters I can assure Councillor Lodge that this issue isn’t going to go away.
Although we have lost the Rustlings Road trees the battle is far from over and the campaigners are more determined than ever to carry on until this shameful chainsaw massacre is stopped. I would suggest the least that Councillors Dore and Lodge can do is to offer their resignations together with others who sanctioned the awful pre-dawn fellings on November 17.
The people of Sheffield must surely now realise that this council cannot be trusted to act fairly and responsibly regarding any issues that affect our city and they deserve some answers to the following questions: –
Why was the Independent Tree Panel commissioned in the first place when the council had no intention of accepting their findings and recommendations?
Why was the ITP report, which was completed in July, held back and only released just before the felling began? This was absolutely outrageous, especially as they knew alternative methods could be used other than felling to address any problems of damage to pavements.
How can Councillor Bryan Lodge (as stated in his Radio Sheffield interview) consider that the planting of 17 new trees on Rustlings Road are adequate replacements for the eight healthy trees that were destroyed? New saplings will never grow to the height or provide the canopy of the beautiful plane trees that had possibly another 100 years of life ahead of them had they not been needlessly axed.
Having seen the public’s response on The Star’s Letters pages and on social media one would hope that the council would have learned a valuable lesson from this shambles but, given their arrogant disregard for public opinion, it seems unlikely.
It has been said already that we lost more than the trees on November 17 – it was the day democracy died in this great city of ours.
Westminster Crescent, S10