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Sheffield Council and STAG to compromise over trees

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Sheffield City Council and Sheffield Tree Action Group have committed to ‘mediated talks’ over street trees after years of being in direct opposition. 

The talks will be overseen by the Bishop of Sheffield Pete Wilcox and take place on Thursday 27 and Friday 28, September, but will not be open to the public or press. 

Ahead of the talks the two groups have issued their first ever joint statement.

Councillor Lewis Dagnall, cabinet member for environment and streetscene, and Chris Rust and Paul Brook, co-leaders of STAG, said: “Representatives of Sheffield City Council and STAG have agreed to mediated talks, conducted by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution, CEDR, and overseen by the Bishop of Sheffield, the Very Reverend Dr Pete Wilcox. 

"Mediation is a process in which a neutral and independent person, agreed by both sides, actively assists parties to resolve a dispute.

“Mediation requires that all parties sign up to an agreement covering behaviour and confidentiality during the process.

“The Council and STAG have agreed that we will issue joint statements when progress is made, but both parties now request that we are allowed time to work through the issues before us."

The council’s delegation will include councillors, officers and representatives from Amey. 

STAG’s delegation will include members of the steering committee and a representative from Trees for Cities.

They have been consistently vocal against the council’s £2.2bn Streets Ahead contract with Amey which includes a target to fell 17,500 trees and replace them with saplings. 

Throughout their campaign they have staged a series of protests in a bid to stop the trees being chopped down.

The council took STAG activists to court for standing in ‘safety zones’ as trees were being chopped down which cost the council more than £413,000 in legal fees.

Councillor Lewis Dagnall, cabinet member for environment and street scene, has previously spoken about the talks, and said: “I believe that with all sides prepared to compromise, we can reach a resolution that will benefit the city for generations to come.

“The council is now close to having a set of revised proposals and options. I have committed to a meaningful dialogue with residents and other stakeholders, including campaign groups, before the council makes a final decision on the future course.”