11 October 2013
Oak Park turning circle, Broomhill, after Amey felled all 5 trees over the summer.
At a packed meeting on Wednesday, the stress and, for some, trauma, that removal of trees caused to residents was highlighted clearly and passionately. The isolation and lack of a voice for disadvantaged communities and their trees, in inner city urban areas, was also noted.
Members of the audience described the lack of consultation from Amey or the Council, and their failed attempts to make their views known. Leaflets or letters had been promised - but there were none. Notices announcing the decisions were placed so high up trees they could not be read. Call centres were hard to reach and had no-one prepared to deal with complaints effectively. Even where information went out to local people, the process was invariably one of "notification" and not "consultation".
Green Councillor Jillian Creasy, chairing, commented :
“The council have embarked on a major programme to refurbish and maintain all our highways including pavements, verges, street trees and lighting. They have chosen to contract the work out to a multinational company, Amey.
"It is vital that local people have a say in how work is done in their areas and that the process be transparent and accountable.
"I will be writing to Council officers and representatives of Amey, to urge them to review and improve their communication and consultation processes.“
Decades long policies ignored
Sheffield tree expert Professor Ian Rotherham spoke on the work currently being done by Amey under the Council's Streets Ahead contract:
"I recognise the importance of urban street trees and the benefits brought to people living on those streets. I acknowledge the difficulties involved in street tree management under punitive austerity measures but the adverse impacts are felt at the most local level.
"The City Council has numerous environmental strategies, policies, and promises for trees, established over several decades and which still apply, and which are being ignored.“
There was a call for action and for tree champions in the local authority and in the communities affected, and Sheffield Wildlife Trust offered support to residents affected.
The meeting was hosted by Sheffield Green Party at St Mary’s Community Centre.
For more information please contact Cllr Jillian Creasy.