Most of the nut cases work for the council

editorial image

Like any large public group I’m sure there are some tree protesters who are complete nut cases, but in this case most of the nut cases work for Sheffield City Council.

This all began with the misunderstanding of a report that said that a lot of Sheffield trees were mature or over mature. Some idiot thought that this meant they needed to be chopped down and replaced with 8 year old saplings. Then the council put this into a PFI contract with Amey, who are all about profit and having no pavement maintenance to do for 25 years.

There are ways to manage mature trees in the contract, they are just being ignored. Mr Bocking really needs to get out there on the streets and I think he will find that tree protesters are just people deeply concerned about what is being done to their city by an out of touch council, desperately trying to bluff its way out of a series of bad decisions made behind closed doors.

JT

By email

Work described is impossible to undertake

I read Tony Ball’s letter “makes no sense financially, to me” of November 16 with interest. I do not want to take issue with his figures as I’ve no alternatives, but I think he fails to understand the difficulty of “manually resetting kerbstones and levelling the footpath.”

Obviously Sheffield is the home of precision engineering, but unfortunately the work he describes is impossible to undertake with much precision. Picks and spades, and pneumatic road drills when used in close proximity to tree roots are likely to damage them and even hot tarmac laid on top of roots is likely to wound them. Tree roots are delicate and no matter how careful a worker might be there is always a risk of inadvertently causing damage.

A tree’s response to wounding is to grow wound wood (occluding tissue) and trees will grow this tissue more quickly than it usually lays down its annual increment. Thus the newly laid tarmac surface is likely to be distorted at a faster rate than it was previously.

The solutions proposed by some, and implied by Mr Ball, of root pruning and shaving are all likely to lead to this problem. And that is assuming that the loss of roots does not actually destabilise the tree. A wound may of course become infected with some sort of pathogen which leads to a tree’s death, or perhaps decay, which if undetected may lead to a tree falling with who knows what consequences. The wisdom of spending money on a solution that is not only temporary but has the potential to create a more serious hazard is less clear-cut than Mr Ball implies. Mr Ball goes on to discuss contracts, which is another topic I would not want to dispute.

However it seems to me that if a contract was written where the contractor had to offer guarantees about not inadvertently causing root damage, the contract price would increase. Precisely how penalties for inadvertent root damage would be instigated is another problem, but I can’t imagine they would be without cost.

This topic, the difficulty of repairing and resurfacing streets without causing root damage, is one the council and Amey haven’t managed to get across to the public. You may be interested to know that research by the Forestry Commission into this topic, in the 1990s, was undertaken in Stannington.

Name and address supplied

On the road to true democracy and peace

I am writing in response to Streets Ahead Amey Account Director Darren Butt’s letter, published November 23, in the Sheffield Telegraph.

In Mr Butt’s last paragraph, he writes: “We respect people have individual views about trees but it’s important that others are allowed their views too.” This has a nice PR ring but it’s a red herring.

When I get my plumbing done, I like to use a suitably qualified and experienced plumber; when I need legal advice, I like to go to a registered solicitor, and when my teeth need work, I like to use a qualified dentist. So, excuse me, if I don’t want to just ask anyone their opinion on whether a street tree should or should not stay.

No matter how democratic and nice that sounds. I like to ask a competent, suitably qualified and experienced arborist, preferably registered with the Arb Association, along with a highways engineer. Or a world-renowned Arb such as Jeremy Barrell, or Russell Horsey – all of whom are not in agreement with Mr Butt and many of his Streets Ahead Amey team about the felling of Sheffield’s healthy, street trees for which there are affordable and already costed-for alternatives.

For too long, Streets Ahead have set up a situation akin to The Hunger Games, setting one neighbourhood against another, or one neighbour against another, using household surveys and other devices to create the guise of democracy. The truth is, none of this fire fighting would have been necessary had there been an adequate tree strategy in place, and standard national practice adhered to.

More than two years after one was publicly promised, by former SCC Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport Coun Terry Fox, in front of media, we are still waiting and our city suffering irreversible damage due to its absence. Whilst the strategy may not be a panacea it would be a start on the road to true democracy and peace.

Louise Wilcockson

By email

Why can’t we see this secretive contract?

I have seen reports on social media that the council are now using even more heavy handed tactics in relation to tree felling.

If this is true, and I have no reason to doubt photographic evidence, it is a disgusting practice, and Sheffield Council seem to be desperately doing anything they can to continue felling trees without entering into discussions with the public.

This lead me to think further about the redacting of the Amey contract.Why is this necessary? And why is it allowed?

I understand that the reason given for the secrecy is commercial sensitivity.

Why is this necessary? I can not think of any sound reason, other than they have something to hide.

If on the other hand Amy have won the contract by being more efficient or cost effective, surely it is in all our interests for these practises to be shared so other companies can follow their example. By keeping the contract secret, Sheffield council are, at best, preventing the spread of best practise.

We are paying for this work ( also for the misguided attempts of the council to use the “law” to sto protesters instead of entering into sensible discussion with the public) and should be able to see the contract in full.

Phil Lockwood

By email