Sheffield tree felling scandal councillor Bryan Lodge quits

A senior councillor at the heart Sheffield’s tree felling scandal has offered his resignation.
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Councillor Bryan Lodge, who was in charge of the contentious tree-felling programme, said it felt like the “right time” after a "very difficult budget setting process".

But a senior Labour source said his position was "completely untenable" after the Lowcock report was published - and expressed frustration at his resistance to resigning until pressed by senior party figures.

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The source said: "Bryan needed to go immediately but held on to the detriment of his Labour colleagues. Now we can move on and show the people of Sheffield what Labour can deliver, without this massive distraction hanging over us."

Coun Bryan Lodge. Picture: Chris EtchellsCoun Bryan Lodge. Picture: Chris Etchells
Coun Bryan Lodge. Picture: Chris Etchells

Sir Mark Lowcock's report found the council had misled the courts and the public over a plan to cut down half of the city's 35,000 street trees as part of a highways improvement contract. Senior council figures, including Coun Lodge, repeatedly denied there was any target but the council has now accepted there was following the publication of Sir Mark's report. Sheffield City Council leader Terry Fox and Coun Lodge were criticised in the inquiry and faced repeated calls to quit. Now Coun Lodge has offered his resignation - with a statement that does not mention the scandal.

He said: “I’ve made no secret of the fact that I'm not seeking re-election when my current term as a councillor comes to an end in May 2024. My family, friends and branch have been aware of this for over two years.

“We have just come out of a very difficult budget setting process, working hard to set a balanced budget for the forthcoming year. In light of my intention to retire from the council in May 2024, I feel that this is the right time to advise that I have let Coun Terry Fox know that I feel it appropriate that I no longer take a lead on finance for the next year. It wouldn't feel right for me to be setting a budget for the following year if I am not around to deliver it. In making my decision now, it means that the Labour Group leadership team have the time to consider all options in deliberations for the year ahead."