VIDEO: Pulp legend Jarvis Cocker backs protesters bid to save thousands of Sheffield trees from the chop

Pulp singer Jarvis Cocker is backing campaigners in their bid to save thousands of trees from being chopped down across Sheffield.

Friday, 20th January 2017, 7:36 pm
Updated Friday, 20th January 2017, 7:42 pm
Jarvis Cocker.

The Sheffield superstar, whose band once had a hit called 'The Trees', is fronting a competition called the Great Trees of Sheffield 2017, which aims to find the city's greatest tree.

This is his way of backing protesters in their campaign to protect thousands of roadside trees, which are being chopped down as part of a huge roads maintenance programme across the city.

Richard Hawley.

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At the launch of the competition today, he cited the weeping beech at the entrance to Endcliffe Park as his favourite tree.

Other famous faces are also supporting the campaign as Jarvis' former Pulp bandmates Richard Hawley and Nick Banks are backing it.

Hawley, who still lives in Sheffield, said: "It boils down to something really simple, do you like breathing? What we exhale they inhale and what we inhale they exhale. The end.”

The competition is the brainchild of Rob McBride, the self-styled campaigner for the protection of trees across Britain.

Protesters on Rustlings Road.

The row centres on a deal between Sheffield City Council and private contractor Amey. The contractor is tasked with maintaining the city’s 36,000 roadside trees as part of a road maintenance agreement.

As part of the £2bn scheme, called Streets Ahead, about 10,000 trees will be replaced that are deemed "diseased, damaging or dangerous." However, campaigners claim the trees are "healthy" and should remain.

The stand off has led to tense scenes. In November last year three people were arrested when contractors moved in to start felling trees in a 'dawn raid' on Rustlings Road.

The council has refused demands from residents to disclose an unredacted version of its contract with Amey. A national newspaper today reported that several senior councillors have not seen the unredacted contract either.

Richard Hawley.

Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg said: “If that text on which they rely so heavily hasn’t even been read by the council it calls into question whether the reasons they have given for the destruction of the trees hold any water.”

A spokeswoman for Sheffield City Council said the contract ran to more than 7,000 pages and that commercially sensitive information had been redacted.

She added: “Sheffield city council’s chief executive and cabinet members for finance and environment and transport at the time were fully briefed on the scope of the contract and the negotiated deal prior to the contract being awarded.

“Cabinet members from both this administration and the previous administration were involved at all of the decision-making stages of the procurement process and relevant cabinet members continue to be briefed and consulted on issues with the contract, making decisions as and when required.”

Protesters on Rustlings Road.