The Star Says: Council can’t see the wood for the trees

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The campaign for preserving trees in Sheffield will continue but after yesterday’s meeting at the town hall one question was more pertinent than any other.

What kind of city do you want to live in?

The comment was made by Alan Robshaw of the SORT (Save our Rustlings Trees) campaign during a lively three-hour debate yesterday which ended with the ruling Labour group proposing no action on the tree petition and then defeating a bid by the opposition parties to refer the matter back to a scrutiny panel.

Mr Robshaw is right.

Sheffield is one of the biggest cities in the United Kingdom. We have industry, large swathes of council housing, connections with major road and rail networks and hundreds and thousands of residents.

In short, we’re a big, bustling, vibrant place.

But we also have our trees – lots of them.

New visitors to the city remark at how green Sheffield is. Not just in the new environmental usage of the word but in the physical appearance of the city.

On the face of it the campaign to save the mature trees on Rustlings Road in Hunters Bar may only seem relevant to those who get to appreciate them every day.

It runs deeper than that, though. More than 10,000 people have signed the petition to save them.

That’s more names than any Sheffield councillors got votes to elect them to office.

It is the kind of mandate that a politician dreams of every time the electorate goes to the ballot box. And, in essence, these 10,000 people have been ignored.

Yes, there are reasons why some trees may be unsafe and pose an immediate risk to the public.

No one would suggest that the council puts people at risk. But also there comes a point when those that quietly go about their business, working hard every day, paying their council tax, have to be listened to.

It has happened with the Devonshire Street shops and it is happening again with the Rustlings Road trees. People are quite rightly proud of the things that make Sheffield unique.

Increasingly people are prepared to put their names to petitions to preserve what makes us special.

Campaigners say the fight will go on and The Star will follow it every step of the way.

What kind of city do we want to live in? It is an excellent question and one that, at the moment, is seeing the council and people giving different answers.