Tree inquiry: campaigners tell leader ‘you need to go’ in heated council meeting

Tree campaigners are still pushing for Sheffield Council leaders to resign over the tree felling debacle after days of protests and a heated meeting in which they repeatedly told them to go.
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Campaigners held vigils outside the Town Hall earlier this week before protesting ahead of a leader’s meeting on Wednesday.

They chanted “resign” and held placards including some that read “dis-Lodge them both”, “resign for Fox sake” and “meaningless apologies won’t do”.

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It follows the findings of a long-awaited inquiry seeking “truth and reconciliation” following the infamous Streets Ahead programme that aimed to fell 17,500 street trees as part of a £2.2 billion contract between the council and Amey.

Tree campaigners are still pushing for Sheffield Council leaders to resign over the tree felling debacle after days of protests and a heated meeting in which they repeatedly told them to go.Tree campaigners are still pushing for Sheffield Council leaders to resign over the tree felling debacle after days of protests and a heated meeting in which they repeatedly told them to go.
Tree campaigners are still pushing for Sheffield Council leaders to resign over the tree felling debacle after days of protests and a heated meeting in which they repeatedly told them to go.

The report showed the council overstretched its authority in taking drastic action against campaigners, had serious and sustained failures in leadership and misled the public, courts and an independent panel it set up to deal with the dispute.

Calls to resign were aimed at councillors Terry Fox, current leader of the council and Labour, and Bryan Lodge, current co-chair of the finance committee, who were both heads of the tree felling programme.

Coun Fox led the scheme for a year between 2015 and 2016 before Coun Lodge took over during the most controversial years between 2016 and 2018.

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Tree campaigners, some of whom fought against the fellings for several years, said they will not accept anything less than full resignations, not just positions of authority.

Tree campaigners are still pushing for Sheffield Council leaders to resign over the tree felling debacle after days of protests and a heated meeting in which they repeatedly told them to go.Tree campaigners are still pushing for Sheffield Council leaders to resign over the tree felling debacle after days of protests and a heated meeting in which they repeatedly told them to go.
Tree campaigners are still pushing for Sheffield Council leaders to resign over the tree felling debacle after days of protests and a heated meeting in which they repeatedly told them to go.

Heated meeting

The protests outside the Town Hall were ahead of the strategy and resources committee meeting where Coun Fox made a statement about the inquiry.

Speaking to councillors in the meeting, Annette Taberner, campaigner, said: “You keep talking about ‘we’ are going forward, we don’t want to go forward with you because we have no trust in you, we have no faith in you – you are a symbol of what has happened to people in this city. It’s too little and it’s too late.

“I’m sick of hearing that the culture has changed… Please, less of this road to Damascus revelation. Change has come about because of the citizens of this city who are sick to death of the way that it is being administered.

Tree campaigners are still pushing for Sheffield Council leaders to resign over the tree felling debacle after days of protests and a heated meeting in which they repeatedly told them to go.Tree campaigners are still pushing for Sheffield Council leaders to resign over the tree felling debacle after days of protests and a heated meeting in which they repeatedly told them to go.
Tree campaigners are still pushing for Sheffield Council leaders to resign over the tree felling debacle after days of protests and a heated meeting in which they repeatedly told them to go.
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“You need to go and you need to go now. You are an albatross around the neck of this city and nothing will improve until you and your colleagues who are itemised in the report make way for other people. You have had your chance, you’ve blown it.

“It’s too late to apologise to four of my friends who were members of the campaign, they are dead. They gave the last years of their lives to try and stop the destruction of our trees. You can’t apologise to them. We have been to their funerals. We know they are not here any more. It’s too late. You need to get a sense of urgency and after the local elections and after purdah will not be fast enough.

“This is only reflective of a tiny bit of the anger that is out there.”

Councillor Bryan Lodge. Tree campaigners are still pushing for Sheffield Council leaders to resign over the tree felling debacle after days of protests and a heated meeting in which they repeatedly told them to go.Councillor Bryan Lodge. Tree campaigners are still pushing for Sheffield Council leaders to resign over the tree felling debacle after days of protests and a heated meeting in which they repeatedly told them to go.
Councillor Bryan Lodge. Tree campaigners are still pushing for Sheffield Council leaders to resign over the tree felling debacle after days of protests and a heated meeting in which they repeatedly told them to go.
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Coun Fox reiterated his apology in his statement and said all financial claims against campaigners relating to the dispute would be dropped and those who already paid would be reimbursed.

He added following the local elections, there would be a report detailing the council’s response to all of Sir Mark Lowcock’s, chair of the inquiry, recommendations.

“We got things badly wrong and I am determined that we will not go back to those days of politics that we got ourselves into,” he said. “The street tree dispute was a dark time for this city.”