The Liberal Democrats and the Street Trees

The issue of the street trees is very important in Nether Edge and Sharrow. The Council and their contractors, Amey have threaten up to 70% of the trees in the city, many of them in the local area.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats are responsible for signing the contract with Amey in 2011. The Green Party actively campaigned against the out sourcing deal.  The Liberal Democrats have now forgotten  about their role in the creating this mess.

This letter in the Sheffield Telegraph shows how much the Liberal Democrats are opportunists.

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I responded with this letter to the Telegraph which I hope they publish this week.

Councillor Otten rightly calls for Sheffield City Council to “restore faith by taking responsibility” and bring about a “moratorium on tree felling until a city wide tree strategy is in place” (Letters 28 January 2016). It is true that the Labour Council is displaying an arrogance and contempt for local residents who want to protect the city’s green heritage.

Perhaps Cllr Otten should also ask his Liberal Democrats colleagues to take some responsibility for this mess over the fate of the roadside trees. The offending contract with Amey was negotiated by them while they were the largest party on the Council between 2008 and 2011 and they “warmly welcomed” the project. They knew then all about the threat to the trees and the lack of accountability that was written into the deal yet they now appear to be ignorant of these facts. Labour completed the agreement when they took control after the elections in 2011.

The Sheffield Green Party Councillors had no part in the contract discussions but they warned at the time that the deal was bad for the city. We saw that handing over control of vital work to Amey would lose the accountability that is so badly needed to resolve this current situation. It means that Amey does what is best for its shareholders and not what the people of Sheffield want.

The Green Party believes we need a tree strategy that is open and fully debated across the city before implementation. It should take into account all the benefits the trees bring to people; a plan for investment in planting schemes across the whole city; details of how the Council manages the stock for the long term; and build in local residents’ involvement in future decision-making. Hopefully, the Council will agree to this, in response to the thousands of Sheffield people who have signed petitions opposing tree-felling.

Steve Barnard

Nether Edge/Sharrow Green Party

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