This is what greeted visitors to Sheffield city centre on polling day

Park Hill flats, Park Square roundabout and, more often than not, a traffic jam - they're just some of the things that visitors see as they head into to Sheffield city centre.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 4th May 2018, 10:54 am
Updated Friday, 4th May 2018, 3:36 pm
The advertising board just off Sheffield Parkway. Picture:

But this was the message greeted those heading into the Steel City on the Parkway on polling day.

Tree campaigners took out an advert on the giant digital board just before the junction with Derek Dooley Way - and displayed the message 'Sheffield Chainsaw Massacre' - along with a picture of an arborist - akin to the cover of the 1974 horror movie The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Chris Rust, of Sheffield Tree Action Groups, said campaigners raised £1,200 through a Crowdfunding appeal to pay for the advertising.

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He said: "Quite some time ago one of the supports did a Crowdfunding campaign to raise money for some work to alert people to what's going on.

"We actually looked at many ways to spend the money and, in the end, following the success of other billboards, we thought we would do this."

Underneath 'Sheffield Chainsaw Massacre' the advert also displayed the message: 'Streets Ahead? Sheffield's £2.2 billion PFI Highways contract has a target to fell 17,500 street trees. Many are perfectly healthy'.

Mr Rust added: "This is an advert paid for by STAG supporters and is intended to draw attention to what we believe has been a badly managed contract by the council."

Sheffield Council said only trees which are deemed to be dangerous will be worked on, while the council and contractor Amey, who are carrying out the works as part of a £2.2 billion highways improvement contract, review how to complete the work.

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.

Coun Bryan Lodge, Sheffield Council's Cabinet member for environment and Street Scene, said: "We’ve been absolutely clear that we welcome peaceful protest and campaigning at all times. This is a political advertisement, placed on the day of elections and paid for by members of those opposed to the replacement of some street trees in Sheffield.

“What’s more, this is not the sort of approach we would expect from a group who claim to hold the reputation of the city in such high regard.

“However, we would have hoped that any funds raised by STAG through their crowdfunding activities would rightfully go towards the £19,000 in legal costs still owed to the Council and the city’s taxpayers, before advertising for their campaign.”