Petition calls for LibDems and Greens to run Sheffield City Council after street trees scandal
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Alan Story said he helped to set up the group No Stump City after 23 trees in an avenue of street trees, planted on Western Road, Crookes as a World War One memorial was threatened with being felled as part of the highly-controversial council highways contract with Amey. The trees were planted in memory of ex-pupils of nearby Westways School who were killed.
The Lowcock Report into the street trees scandal found that that the council misled the public and the courts over its ill-fated £2 billion highways programme contract that included a decision to fell 17,500 street trees.
It said that the Western Road trees became a focal point for the campaign and said that the quoted £250,00 cost of saving them was “likely to be speculative and unreliable”.
Mr Story said: “We launched a major campaign to save every one of the trees that were planted in 1919 and the council wanted to cut them down. They didn’t get a single one of them.”
Flexible paving was installed in 2021 to allow the trees to grow while making the pavement safe as part of a new approach eventually adopted by the council following the protests.
Mr Story added: “I think an incredible amount of money and energy was wasted. These PFI contracts, one of the reasons that the NHS is in trouble is because of PFI deals.
“The council contract extends to 2037 and the repayment is extended to 2057. The people of Sheffield are going to be paying for this deal until 2057.”
Mr Story, who also campaigns for proportional representation in elections, said the street trees scandal “made a laughing stock of this city and country.
“We have a situation now where if the Greens and LibDems got together, they would then have 43 seats in this council. You need 42 seats to control the council.
“No party is in overall control but if two work together they could save the people of Sheffield. The Labour Party doesn’t own Sheffield City Council, there’s a new show in town and we’re going to take over.”
Response to the petition has been fairly low key so far as it has been signed by 39 people.
It says: “The Labour Party has controlled Sheffield City Council (SCC) for too long. Now even the national Labour Party has lost all confidence in local Labour, forced SCC head Terry Fox to resign and put the Labour-controlled council under so-called “special measures.”
“We, the undersigned residents of Sheffield, have lost all confidence as well.
“Moreover, SCC should be controlled by Sheffielders, not Labour Party bureaucrats based in Labour HQ in London.
“We call on SCC councillors for the Greens and the Liberal Democrats to immediately reach an agreement to JOINTLY control SCC for the next 12 months. Together, the two parties hold 43 seats on SCC as a result of the recent local elections. Labour holds only 39 seats.
“End the shame and mismanagement Labour has brought to our fair city.
“It is time, past time, for grown-up CO-OPERATIVE and LISTENING government. FOR THE MANY, NOT THE FEW.”
The petition is online at change.org: https://www.change.org/p/lib-dems-and-greens-need-to-run-scc