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Follow up response the Independent Inquiry into the Street Tree Dispute report

Street trees

Statement on behalf of Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council Kate Josephs, and Leader of Sheffield City Council Cllr Terry Fox:

We have taken some time to look through Sir Mark Lowcock’s report into the Sheffield Street Tree Dispute, however  the council will need more time to consider and reflect on the findings. What is clear is that there were some serious errors of judgement and we apologise unequivocally.

As an organisation, having already spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on where things went wrong, the report has further highlighted many uncomfortable home truths that the organisation were aware of already, however there is some difficult further reading.

As is explained in Sir Mark’s report, as an organisation, Sheffield City Council produced a document that subsequently mislead the courts, the Independent Tree Panel and the public. Whilst the report is clear that no individuals gave evidence they believed to be false or misleading, that does not take away from the fact the document did mislead people. We are sorry and we should have done better as an organisation.

We acknowledge that the organisations actions have had serious implications for the people involved. Campaigners and members of the public suffered as a result of our actions and we put our own staff in positions where their actions were ultimately wrong.

We need to make personal apologies to a significant number of people individually and it is only right that we take the time to identify every single person and reach out to them directly.

As pointed out by Sir Mark Lowcock, we have been making significant steps to be better and do better. There is a long way to go, but we are a changing organisation. We accept our apology can only go so far, and the people of Sheffield deserve to see results.

We have some work to do to regain the trust of the people but we fully intend to implement Sir Mark’s recommendations. We hope that this report marks the end of the dispute and the start of the reconciliation.