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Jarvis Cocker hits out at 'daft' felling of Sheffield street trees

Jarvis Cocker opposes the felling of Sheffield's street trees
Jarvis Cocker opposes the felling of Sheffield's street trees
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Jarvis Cocker has called on Sheffield Council to pulp their tree-felling programme, calling the policy “daft” and “crazy” ahead of an appearance at a fundraising show for campaigners tonight.

The Pulp singer was speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme before taking part in a fundraising gig for the legal costs of tree campaigners in Sheffield this evening.

How the Sheffield tree saga has unfolded: Everything you need to know

While campaigners argue many healthy trees are being removed for contractual reasons, Sheffield Council says the reasons why trees could be selected for removal are known as the ‘six Ds’; if they are dead, dying, diseased, decaying, damaging to the highway or ‘discriminatory’ - affecting the ability of people to use the pavement.

Cocker said: “The seventh ‘D’ is daft. It is very daft to get rid of so many trees. They are trying to get rid of half of Sheffield’s street trees, which is kind of crazy.”

The musician said he does not accept the council’s position that all of the trees it removes are being replaced.

“You can’t really replace trees can you? You replace them with a little sapling that is going to take at least 40 years to reach maturity.

“We have all seen that thing where the pavement is all buckled and stuff like that but I don’t think that is happening in half the cases of the street trees in Sheffield. That’s what people are protesting about, the scale of which this is going on.”

Cocker will be playing a DJ set tonight at the sold-out Get Off Our Tree event at Sheffield City Hall which will also feature fellow Sheffield musicians Richard Hawley, Nick Banks, Jon McClure and a live performance by The Everly Pregnant Brothers.

A year-long Freedom of Information battle has recently resulted in the Information Commissioner forcing Sheffield Council to reveal their 25-year highways maintenance contract with Amey, which started in 2012, includes a target to replace 17,500 of the city's 36,000 street trees.

The council insist the number is not a target but instead a form of 'insurance' against potential major disease outbreaks among the city's tree population. It estimates around 10,000 trees will be felled and replaced with saplings over the course of the contract.

In recent weeks, dozens of police officers and private security guards have been attending felling operations, with several arrests of campaigners made.

In the past week, Environment Secretary Michael Gove and three of Sheffield's MPs - Louise Haigh, Paul Blomfield and Jared O'Mara - have called for the tree-felling programme to be called to a halt so talks can take place with local residents opposing the work.