Lib Dems on the tree-lined election trail

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A Baroness has visited a Sheffield street where trees planted in memory of fallen soldiers are to be axed.

The President of UK Liberal Democrats, Baroness Sal Brinton, visited Western Road in Crookes where mature trees will be felled as part of the council’s £2 billion Streets Ahead contract with Amey to improve roads and pavements across the city.

Baroness Sal Brinton with Lib Dem campaigners

Baroness Sal Brinton with Lib Dem campaigners

But Labour has dubbed her visit an “absolutely shameless political stunt” and says when the Lib Dems were in power they signed off documents on the tree felling.

Baroness Sal, who is in a wheelchair, had previously visited Rustlings Road. She made a video of herself riding over tree roots to show they did not pose a hazard to people with disabilities.

She said: “I was last here two years ago in the run up to the Brexit referendum and the tree fiasco was just getting underway. I am appalled at what’s happened in the last two years, it really is unbelievable.”

“This council is being held to account by the electorate. We need trust, truth and transparency but people are extremely angry about these issues with Amey and the police and how they are handling the tree protests. There is a sense of anger when we talk to people on the doorsteps.

“It is astonishing the Labour council is carrying on with this contract as it’s been disaster after disaster.”

Her visit to Sheffield is part of a week long tour of Northern cities in the run up to the local elections.

Labour says the Lib Dems only want to talk about trees while its manifesto is for the whole city and pledges to make it “fairer, greener and more prosperous”.

Labour councillor Bryan Lodge, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “Regardless of which side of the tree debate you sit on I think everyone will be able to see this for exactly what it is, an absolutely shameless political stunt from the Lib Dems.

"I’d urge people to look at what we are actually proposing for Sheffield, instead of not seeing the wood for the trees.

“The fact is that when the Lib Dems ran the council their own document inviting bidders to come forward for the contract said ‘A significant improvement in the standard of tree maintenance will be required, with large numbers of over-mature trees being replaced by more appropriate species’

“Only last month the Lib Dems put forward a budget with no mention of changing the Streets Ahead contract or the policy. The vast majority of trees due to be replaced in the main investment period of the contract have been and this has been happening since 2012.

“The Lib Dems are now jumping on the bandwagon at the eleventh hour and not even suggesting what they would do differently.”