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The job no Sheffield politician wants

Coun Lewis Dagnall, left, the new Cabinet Member for Environment
Coun Lewis Dagnall, left, the new Cabinet Member for Environment
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It’s a poisoned chalice.

Coun Lewis Dagnall has become the fifth councillor to take on the role of Cabinet Member for Environment, where the only remit seems to be overseeing the continuing tree fiasco.

Council Leader Julie Dore has repeatedly said the controversial contract with Amey cannot be terminated so is this a case of shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic?

Coun Dagnall, whose partner is Cabinet Member for Finance Olivia Blake, is a relatively new councillor. He follows in the footsteps of councillors Jack Scott, Jayne Dunn, Terry Fox and the recently departed Bryan Lodge who have all held the position.

Coun Lodge’s resignation was perhaps unsurprising. He says he has suffered “aggressive, nasty and personal” abuse and Labour lost the Crookes and Crosspool ward in last week’s local elections because of plans to fell swathes of memorial trees.

Shaffaq Mohammed, Leader of Sheffield Lib Dems, said: “Clearly things have become very difficult for Coun Lodge because of the decisions taken by this Labour council.

“The local election results showed a massive swing from Labour in the wards of Nether Edge and Crookes where trees have been particularly under threat.

“The challenge will continue unless the new Cabinet Member can come up with a fresh approach. I hope Coun Dagnall doesn’t continue to make the same mistakes.

“Sheffield has voted for something different. People are not happy with this policy and want change. We can’t keep going on as we have.”

Green councillor Alison Teal, who was arrested during a tree protest, said the swing from Labour in the council elections showed “clear dissatisfaction” with how Labour is running the city.

“It is clear that Coun Lodge had profoundly mishandled the tree felling by private contractor Amey, and entirely lost the confidence of Sheffield people.

“We have already lost more than 5,000 mature, healthy trees that could still be cleaning up our air, improving our wellbeing and catering to our wildlife. They can't be returned.

“It would be deeply frustrating if the new Cabinet Member just ploughed on but we have to be optimistic that Coun Dagnall will try to do something different.

“My message would be please listen to the experts and speak to the campaigners and take all these messages on board. Work with the community rather than aggressively forcing through this deeply unpopular programme.

“We need a innovative, sustainable, holistic approach which takes account of the vital importance of maintaining canopy cover across the city.”

Coun Dagnall was unavailable for comment.