Letter: It really didn't need to be that way
This letter sent to the Star was written by RJ Bramall, SORT Supporter, S11
I would like to endorse the views of Gary Speck in Your View: Street Trees, Star, July 19), his views and those of the tree campaigners have been wholly vindicated by the very recent Forestry Commission report, (July 19, 2019), entitled 'Alleged illegal tree felling investigation report - Sheffield's Streets Ahead programme' which details and comments upon some aspects of the tree saga in detail. It's worth reading just to see how Sheffield Council and Amey managed or rather mis-managed the tree aspects of the Streets Ahead £2.2 billion PFI contract. The Star in its report, (July 14, 2019, page 24), on the findings of the FC report reported on a number of failings that were identified "included failing to provide information to investigators; felling around 600 trees illegally; inadequate consultation at taxpayers costs (sic) and claiming trees would only be chopped down as a 'last resort'". and since then Michael Gove has said, (reported in same The Star article), "...not only did Sheffield Council fell swathes of precious street trees unnecessarily, it failed to keep proper felling records, did not adequately consult the community and did not openly engage with the Forestry Commission on its subsequent investigation. This demonstrated a casual disregard which the (FC) report says may have even resulted in greater costs to the tax payer". These are damning verdicts indeed. And that's of course ignoring the heavy handed policing; the Rustlings Road pre-dawn raid, the fact that the Council for the most part ignored the recommendations of its own Independent Tree Panel, and the general misinformation that was spread by the Council and its representatives. I cannot agree more with Gary's 'View' and I add my support to his request that The Star collate all the reports and lies told over the past few years. The Forestry Commission report can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/alleged-illegal-tree-felling-investigation-report-sheffields-streets-ahead-programme
Coun Lewis Dagnall's recent half-apology might be thought to go some way towards answering the council's critics however there are others who were much more involved in the tree felling policy and indeed the Rustlings Road pre-dawn raid than Coun Dagnall and an apology from them would be welcome.
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I've attached a photograph of 'Delilah' a much loved tree on Rustlings Road that was felled in the name of a misguided policy of a misguided Council. It really didn't need to be that way.