'Use time wisely' Sheffield Lib Dem leader's message as tree felling works halted

Coun Shaffaq Mohammed.
Coun Shaffaq Mohammed.
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Opposition councillors in Sheffield have welcomed the pause in controversial tree felling works across the city.

Sheffield Council said no works would be carried out today as contractors Amey, who are carrying out the work as part of a 25-year private finance initiative contract, were focusing on other areas of the contract including pruning and tree maintenance.

The halt is the second time works have been paused. Amey didn't carry out any tree felling for around four weeks following a disturbance between protesters and security staff on Meersbrook Park Road on January 22.

Lib Dem leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed said: "I welcome the much needed pause on tree felling. The pause has come about thanks to the determined and hard working tree campaigners.

"The street tree scandal has made Sheffield hit the national headlines for all the wrong reasons and I really think our city needs to move forward.

"I hope Sheffield City Council uses this time wisely. We have a real opportunity to sit down and sort this out. They can’t just carry on business as usual after the pause. The way the council have handled the street tree situation really lacks trust and transparency.

"Sheffield City Council can now use this pause to sit down with tree campaigners to come up with a solution which works for the whole of the city.

"I will continue to watch this closely to make sure we leave the bad headlines in the past. I really do hope this pause brings real change into how the council handles street trees."

Arborists are felling and replacing trees deemed dangerous, dead, diseased, dying or which are said to be damaging streets and pavements but objectors to the scheme have staged a number of protests across the city.

Trees earmarked for felling are fenced or cordoned off and a court injunction is in place making it illegal for protesters to enter the safety zones. But a number of cordons have been breached, leading to a number of arrests.

The Star has contacted Sheffield Council for a comment and is awaiting a response.