Street trees in Sheffield: Commitment to work better with residents to get the job done
19 January 2017
Sheffield City Council is today announcing a series of commitments to the people of Sheffield as part of the Streets Ahead street tree replacement programme.
Streets Ahead is a city wide highways maintenance contract between the council and Amey to upgrade Sheffield’s roads, pavements, street lights, bridges and other items on and around our streets over a 25 year period.
Councillor Bryan Lodge, Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “Sheffield’s beautiful and distinctive street scene was created by the Victorians. We all have great pride in our green and leafy streets. However, these trees won’t last forever.
“Streets Ahead is the biggest investment ever seen in roads, street trees and infrastructure in the city we all love. This represents our opportunity to replace trees where necessary so that they don’t just last for the next ten years, but for the next hundred years. For our children and our grandchildren. We simply won’t get this chance again with public sector funding going the way it is.
“The truth is that Sheffield City Council has lost £350 million from its budget in the last seven years. Services across the board, including those for vulnerable people, are being squeezed. We know that most people in Sheffield do not want us to divert funds away from caring for those in need and into expensive alternative solutions for retaining street trees.
“We know that the majority of people in the city are supportive of the Streets Ahead aims. But we also know that we have not always got it right in the way the street trees element of the work has been carried out.
“We are announcing a series of new commitments to the people of Sheffield for 2017 today. It’s important to be clear that this is not necessarily about replacing fewer trees, although we will continue to listen to the views of residents regarding the trees. This is about working in a clear, transparent and collaborative way, and working to regain the trust of people in Sheffield.
“We reiterate our apology for the mistakes that we have made, and we understand that we need to show that we have learned from what happened. We have already promised that no work will begin before seven am and that we will publish the Independent Tree Panel advice well in advance of any work beginning on trees.
“In addition to this we are today announcing that there will be a cross party member working group to look at the Western Road First World War Memorial. This group will work with War Memorials Trust and the local community to make fitting and long-lasting tributes to those who gave their lives for this country.
“We have listened to how strongly people feel about memorial trees in their communities and we also commit to working to retain and improve memorials at the four additional sites across the city. These are at Frecheville, Crookesmoor, Meersbrook and Springvale Road. In each case we will work with local people as well as War Memorials Trust. By replanting and rededicating these memorials over the coming months, we hope to be able to unveil new fitting memorial sites in time for Armistice Day this November.
“We have also listened to calls for clearer and more timely information on how we come to decisions. We commit to publishing our final decisions relating to trees that have been through the Independent Tree Panel process, and the rationale behind these decisions, in a clear format and at least a week before any work begins on trees that need to be replaced.
“We are also committing to a review and refresh of all Streets Ahead communications with residents, including those relating to street trees. We want to make sure we’re working in a collaborative and friendly way with people living on affected streets. This review will begin immediately and be assessed continually throughout the remainder of the contract.
“So while our commitment to the street trees programme remains as strong as ever, and the job has got to be done, we know we have to do better when it comes to working with people across the city. I hope our commitments today show how important this is to us.”
“Ultimately, we want to ensure the street tree population in Sheffield is maintained or renewed to create a legacy of healthy, diverse trees for future generations.”
Sheffield City Council has confirmed that decisions about the street trees that have been through the Independent Tree Panel process will be published in a format in which they can be easily understood by the people of Sheffield at least a week ahead of works commencing.
Sheffield City Council is also asking for any community group with questions on street trees or any other aspect of the Streets Ahead work to get in touch, and, wherever possible, they will provide a member to attend the meeting, explain the project, and take questions.
All trees that are felled are replaced as part of the 25 year programme, with many additional trees planted in addition to replacements. An estimated total of 10,000 trees will be replaced as part of the Streets Ahead work across Sheffield, of the 36,000 street trees in the city.
In the last 3 years, Sheffield City Council has enabled the planting of 65,000 trees across the city’s parks and woodlands. Sheffield has the highest proportion of trees to people of any major UK city, with four trees for every resident. Of the city’s two million trees, just 1.8 percent of these are street trees.
To find out more about the Streets Ahead contract visit: www.sheffield.gov.uk/streetsahead