Council only listen to opinions when it suits

A sign on tree cut down by contractors in Rustlings Road
A sign on tree cut down by contractors in Rustlings Road
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The letter published on Friday, May 12, (“Opinions differ from the online survey”), was virtually identical to a letter sent on May 8 to local councillors for Hillsborough, Sheffield City Council Leader Julie Dore, and cabinet member Coun Bryan Lodge.

The response from the council has further demonstrated that the Independent Tree Panel is a smokescreen and a poor attempt to show that the council cares about the residents of Sheffield. In fact they only listen to residents when it suits their agenda.

As the Star was going to press, I received a reply from Paul Billington, director of culture and environment at Sheffield City Council.

Mr Billington said: “The results of the council survey were clear and conclusive and the council has acted upon it as it has elsewhere across the city.

“The council therefore intends to continue with the tree replacement works followed by upgrades to the road, pavements and lights.

“The council only decides on replacing a tree as a last resort and all decisions are based on expert advice. I should also add that the council cannot respond to ad hoc surveys conducted for and by special interest groups.”

How can anyone state that a survey with a 7 per cent response rate is “clear and conclusive”, especially when less than one-third of households recalled receiving the survey in the first place? This is only one of many factors that make the survey results meaningless.

Do we have to remind them of Prof Greg Brooks’ critique of the survey, in which he called the household survey so badly conducted that it amounted to “a denial of democracy”?

Felling the healthy mature trees on Balmain Road is not in line with residents’ wishes, as shown by the door-to-door survey.

Like the felling of thousands of healthy mature trees across the whole of Sheffield, it is not in line with national guidelines for good arboricultural practice.

Nor is it within the UK Roads Liaison Group Code of Practice for a Well Managed Highway, with which SCC and Amey should be in compliance.

So why are SCC allowing, one might say encouraging, Amey to fell these valuable assets to our city?

Rebecca Hammond

Save Rivelin Valley Road, Hillsborough & Wadsley Trees and Sheffield Tree Action Groups