Call for Sheffield Council to reveal more of Streets Ahead contract

Sheffield tree campaigners have called on the city council to publish more of the Streets Ahead contract.

Thursday, 23rd March 2017, 2:08 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:07 am
Tree campaigners ring Sheffield Town Hall.

Sheffield Tree Action Groups, or Stag, said this week it wanted to 'bring down the temperature' in the ongoing dispute over the council's plans to fell and replace many of the city's street trees.

Campaigners wrote to council leader Julie Dore to call for renewed talks and a 'trust-based dialogue'.

But Stag says in order to achieve that, the authority must release more of the Streets Ahead contract with Amey to the public.

So far only part of the contract has been revealed, with much of it redacted.

Speaking on behalf of Stag, Rebecca Hammond said: "The lack of transparency and accessible information about the contract is very concerning.

"Unnecessary secrecy has led to high levels of suspicion and mistrust of the information circulated by the council, its councillors and officers.

"If more information was made publicly available, we feel that much of the mistrust and allegations of misinformation could be more easily resolved.

"Openness is surely to the benefit of the residents of Sheffield and local democracy.”

Campaigners have compared the contract to a similar one Amey has with Birmingham Council, which they say is 'much more visible'.

The council has previously said it would be more open with the public.

Cabinet member for environment Bryan Lodge said: “We are happy to listen to all views and we continue to meet with representatives of Stag and other interested groups on a regular basis.

“Many of the protest groups have a number of members, with differing views and approaches, to which we have tried tirelessly to accommodate over the past year.

"We would suggest that, rather than approaching the media with their concerns, protest groups contact us in the normal way to arrange a meeting, and we would be happy to sit down with them to explain our approach.

“We have always been clear that we respect the right of people in Sheffield to protest peacefully. However, when this crosses over into preventing the work we are legally obliged to carry out, this is no longer peaceful. The action of protestors if they stop work from happening, is unlawful.

“The redacted sections of the Streets Ahead contract do not relate to the tree replacement programme, engineering solutions, number of trees to be replaced in any given time period or any associated penalties.”

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