Dear Sheffield City Council,

Recently I was shown a letter from you to Mr Pete Goodwin which stated:

"With the Streets Ahead PFI contract, the Council’s requirement is that Amey handles complaints about operational matters in accordance with the Council’s complaints procedure, and the Client Team only investigates a complaint if it is deemed to be a complaint about highway maintenance policy. Therefore, complaints about operational matters are dealt with by Amey at both formal stages of the complaints process."

As I am concerned whether SCC are able to form a view of the level of complaints and citizen's concerns about the Streets Ahead work, please tell me:

1. How does SCC monitor the complaints received by Amey concerning the streets ahead work?

2. Does SCC maintain a statistical record of these complaints, including statistics on the issues complained about?

3. Does SCC have a method of identifying when an investigation by the council might be needed, eg if there were a large number of complaints for a particular issue or from a particular location?

4. What sanctions can SCC impose on Amey in the event of an excessive number of complaints or unresolved complaints?

5. On how many occasions have SCC investigated complaints against Streets Ahead as a result of any methods indicated by question 3 above?

Yours faithfully,

Chris Rust

FOI, Sheffield City Council

Re – Freedom of Information Request – Reference – FOI / 1682
 
Dear Chris Rust,
 
Thank you for your recent request for information relating to SCC
monitoring of complaints to Street Ahead which we received on 29/01/18.
 
This has been logged as a Freedom of Information Request, and will be
dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act.  The reference number for
your request can be found above.
 
The Freedom of Information Act states that we must respond to you within
20 working days, therefore, you should expect to hear a response from us
by 26/02/18.
 
In the meantime, if you have any queries please contact us on the number
below.
 
Thank you.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Resources Business Support
Moorfoot Level 2 North Wing
Sheffield S1 4PL
Tel : 0114 20 53478
E-mail : [1][Sheffield City Council request email]
P Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to
 
 
_____________________________________________
From: Chris Rust [[2]mailto:[FOI #460855 email]]
Sent: 29 January 2018 22:27
To: FOI
Subject: Freedom of Information request - SCC monitoring of complaints to
Street Ahead
 
Dear Sheffield City Council,
 
Recently I was shown a letter from you to Mr Pete Goodwin which stated:
 
"With the Streets Ahead PFI contract, the Council’s requirement is that
Amey handles complaints about operational matters in accordance with the
Council’s complaints procedure, and the Client Team only investigates a
complaint if it is deemed to be a complaint about highway maintenance
policy. Therefore, complaints about operational matters are dealt with by
Amey at both formal stages of the complaints process."
 
As I am concerned whether SCC are able to form a view of the level of
complaints and citizen's concerns about the Streets Ahead work, please
tell me:
 
1. How does SCC monitor the complaints received by Amey concerning the
streets ahead work?
 
2. Does SCC maintain a statistical record of these complaints, including
statistics on the issues complained about?
 
3. Does SCC have a method of identifying when an investigation by the
council might be needed, eg if there were a large number of complaints for
a particular issue or from a particular location?
 
4. What sanctions can SCC impose on Amey in the event of an excessive
number of complaints or unresolved complaints?
 
5. On how many occasions have SCC investigated complaints against Streets
Ahead as a result of any methods indicated by question 3 above?
 
Yours faithfully,
 
Chris Rust
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[3][FOI #460855 email]
 
Is [4][Sheffield City Council request email] the wrong address for Freedom of Information
requests to Sheffield City Council? If so, please contact us using this
form:
[5]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/change_re...
 
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show quoted sections

FOI, Sheffield City Council

Re – Freedom of Information Request – Reference – FOI / 1682
 
Dear Chris Rust,
 
Thank you for your recent request for information relating to SCC
monitoring of complaints to Street Ahead which we received on 29/01/18.
 
Please find below, Sheffield City Council’s response to your request:
 
 
1. How does SCC monitor the complaints received by Amey concerning the
streets ahead work? We do not hold any recorded information relating to
this request.
 
2. Does SCC maintain a statistical record of these complaints, including
statistics on the issues complained about? Yes
 
3. Does SCC have a method of identifying when an investigation by the
council might be needed, eg if there were a large number of complaints for
a particular issue or from a particular location? All Streets Ahead
complaints are handled in accordance with Sheffield City Council’s
Complaints Policy – see link
[1]http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/content/shef...
 
4. What sanctions can SCC impose on Amey in the event of an excessive
number of complaints or unresolved complaints? We do not hold any recorded
information relating to this request.
 
5. On how many occasions have SCC investigated complaints against Streets
Ahead as a result of any methods indicated by question 3 above? We do not
hold any recorded information relating to this request.
 
 
If you have any queries about this response, please do not hesitate to
contact us.
 
If you are unhappy with the response you have received in relation to your
request, you are entitled to have this reviewed.  You can ask for an
internal review by either writing to the above address or by emailing
[2][Sheffield City Council request email].
 
If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of your internal review, you
can contact the Information Commissioners Office. The Information
Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner's Office,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF, telephone 0303 123
1113, or for further details see their website [3]www.ico.org.uk
 
Kind Regards,
 
Resources Business Support
Moorfoot Level 2 North Wing
Sheffield S1 4PL
Tel : 0114 20 53478
E-mail : [4][Sheffield City Council request email]
P Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to
 
 
_____________________________________________

show quoted sections

Mr Long left an annotation ()

AMEY SELF-MONITORING & AFTERCARE: THE SHEFFIELD TAXPAYER RIP-OFF
(Source: https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress.... )

In October 2016, a Freedom of Information request (FOI/2671) response (from SCC’s Resources Business Support team) stated:

“THE STREETS AHEAD CONTRACT IS BASED ON PERFORMANCE SELF-MONITORING BY AMEY."

"In a separate communication, later the same month, DARREN BUTT (the Amey Operations Director*), stated:

‘With regards to monitoring of our activities and improvements, THE STREETS AHEAD HIGHWAYS MAINTENANCE CONTRACT IS BASED ON THE PRINCIPLE OF PERFORMANCE SELF-MONITORING and is robustly SELF-MONITORED BY AMEY...’"

* Now Account Director.

SOURCE:
https://www.change.org/p/sheffield-city-...

*****
FOI/174 response, dated 24th August 2017

“THE STREETS AHEAD HIGHWAYS MAINTENANCE CONTRACT IS BASED ON THE PRINCIPLE OF PERFORMANCE SELF-MONITORING AND IS ROBUSTLY SELF-MONITORED BY AMEY; this does not however mean that the works are not independently
scrutinised and regulated. The Authority carries out such sample checks as are necessary to validate THE AMEY SELF-MONITORING REGIME.”

SOURCE:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

***
At a private meeting, on 1st of August 2016, the Sheffield City Council Cabinet Member for Environment & Transport - Cllr Bryan Lodge (Labour) - informed:

“We’re having to shave back on where we’re monitoring. So, the money for the maintenance side is in there, but the monitoring – the client management side – is not part of that, and that’s where we’re having to make funding cuts… THE MONEY THAT WE NEED TO MONITOR THAT CONTRACT IS NOT THERE, because we try to make savings and…where people have left, we haven’t replaced. We’ve done vacancy management, so WE HAVEN’T GOT THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN THAT CLIENT MANAGEMENT TEAM WHICH WE OUGHT TO HAVE.”

SOURCE:
http://stocksbridgecommunity.org.archive...

***
In response to a complaint to SCC dated 2nd March 2018, about shoddy works and bad practice by Amey, Amey provided a response:

“For your information, I can confirm that AMEY HAS DESIGNATED POWERS TO RESPOND ON BEHALF OF THE COUNCIL ON ALL MATTERS PERTAINING TO STREETS AHEAD WORKS, INCLUDING THE HANDLING AND INVESTIGATION OF COMPLAINTS.
[…]

Jeremy Willis
Operations Manager
Customer Services (Amey)”

SOURCE:
https://en-gb.facebook.com/groups/392913...

***
In July 2018, several weeks in to the longest heatwave since 1976, a Sheffield Tree Action Group participant (Celia Pinnington) received a response to a FOI request that she had submitted. A couple of the questions asked and the responses received were:

QUESTION:

“How often are newly planted saplings watered, and how much water is being given at each scheduled watering? Please provide either monthly or weekly information, from 1st April 2018”

SCC/AMEY RESPONSE:

“The standard watering amount for each replacement tree is between 25 TO 30 LITRES AT LEAST TWICE A YEAR. This quantity may vary dependent upon the species and size of tree, as well as any specific site conditions. We are therefore unable to provide you with a monthly or weekly breakdown of works.”*

QUESTION:

“Are the requirements of Sheffield City Council’s Highway Tree Specifications section 2.7.3 being adhered to? ie. “A MINIMUM OF 90 LITRES PER TREE SHALL BE APPLIED AT FORTNIGHTLY INTERVALS in the period 1st May to 30th September.”
https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/content/dam...

SCC/AMEY RESPONSE:

“We can confirm THAT THIS IS NOT A CONTRACTUAL DOCUMENT and is for guidance only, appertaining primarily to semi-mature and mature trees planted for instant impact on landscaping schemes, rather than the smaller, extra heavy standards planted within the Streets Ahead works.”

SOURCE:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/39291324...

*****
* This was also stated in another SCC/Amey communication received in July 2018:

“We can advise that when a replacement tree is planted, it is watered throughout the following year. The Standard watering for each replacement tree is between 25 TO 30 LITRES AT LEAST TWICE A YEAR.”

SOURCE:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=...

In response to an e-mail dated 17th JULY 2018, Ms Pinnington received greater detail from Streets Ahead Customer Services (AMEY):

“We can confirm that the replacement trees have received between 25-30 LITRES THREE TIMES SINCE APRIL 2018.
We can also advise that we are currently well into a fourth round of tree watering.”

SOURCE:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/39291324...

On 30th July 2018, Ms Pinnington received a further communication from SCC/Amey – an e-mail. It informed:

"We can confirm that WE HAVE A RECORD OF WHEN YOUNG TREES HAVE BEEN WATERED for operational purposes."

SOURCE (comments area):
https://www.facebook.com/groups/39291324...

*****
QUOTES FROM THE BRITISH STANDARDS THAT SCC & AMEY CLAIM TO USE AND ENFORCE COMPLIANCE WITH

BS 3998 (2010):

“6.5 Irrigation/drainage
[…]
Irrigation should be applied so that it wets the greatest practicable
proportion of the tree root volume OVER A PERIOD OF SEVERAL HOURS, BY MEANS OF A CONTROLLED DELIVERY SYSTEM.

NOTE
Flooding water onto the soil surface leads TO RUN-OFF, A WASTE OF WATER AND THE TREE REMAINING SHORT OF WATER.

Where soil becomes persistently waterlogged due TO IMPEDED
DRAINAGE or changes in site conditions, the EXCESSIVE WATER SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM THE SOIL either by the installation of a drainage system or by improving the movement of water through the soil by addressing causal factors such as COMPACTION (see 6.3).”
(from page 17 of BS3998)

BS 8545 (2014):

“11.3 Irrigation

11.3.3 In addition to water-holding capacity, THE AMOUNT OF WATER AVAILABLE TO THE TREE should be assessed. Applying this to all newly planted trees is often impractical, but SAMPLE ASSESSMENTS SHOULD BE MADE.

NOTE
Guidance on determining the amount of available water is given in Annex G, Table G.1.

11.3.4 THE FREQUENCY OF IRRIGATION IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE VOLUME OF WATER GIVEN AT ANY ONE TIME. INCREASED WATER VOLUMES CANNOT COMPENSATE FOR A LACK OF FREQUENCY. This should be accounted for in irrigation plans. IRRIGATION PLANS should also take into account the findings of the original SITE ASSESSMENT and the subsequent species choice made.

NOTE
It might not be sufficient to apply a given amount of water arbitrarily at a certain frequency after transplanting.

11.3.5 MONITORING is recommended if there are 10 consecutive days during the growing season at ≥25 °C. Water should only be added if SOIL MOISTURE PROBE/TENSIOMETER VALUES indicate that it would be appropriate to do so.

11.3.6 The FREQUENCY AND EXTENT OF IRRIGATION should take into account the prevailing weather conditions (e.g. prolonged dry periods or rainfall patterns).

NOTE
Where there is hard surfacing near to newly planted trees, careful design can be used to supplement irrigation needs. This can be achieved by using PERMEABLE SURFACING, DIRECTIONAL DRAINAGE CHANNELS, or other methods where natural rainfall is directed into the rooting environment.

11.3.7 If the use of IRRIGATION TUBES is proposed, it should be fully assessed in relation to the site constraints.

NOTE
THE USE OF IRRIGATION TUBES DOES NOT NECESSARILY PRECLUDE THE NEED FOR TOP WATERING.”
(from page 24 of BS8545)

“It is more important to irrigate transplanted trees frequently than to apply large volumes of water infrequently, as A SINGLE APPLICATION OF A LARGE VOLUME OF WATER DOES NOT COMPENSATE FOR IRRIGATING INFREQUENTLY.

Research has indicated that watering every other day with 4 L to 8 L of water for every 250 mm of stem diameter just above the root flare might provide the most even soil moisture for roots but this might be impractical to deliver.

Research has also indicated that IN MOST CLIMATES, TREES PROBABLY NEED TO BE WATERED ABOUT TWICE EACH WEEK WITH 20 L OF WATER ADEQUATE TO KEEP AN 800 MM DIAMETER ROOTBALL WELL IRRIGATED, and that 40 L of water or less thoroughly moistens a soil ball of 500 mm to 600 mm.

The ASSESSMENT OF IRRIGATION need can be assisted by the use of
a simple SOIL MOISTURE METER.

SAMPLING CAN BE A USEFUL EXERCISE WHEN LARGE NUMBERS OF NEWLY PLANTED TREES ARE BEING MANAGED AND IRRIGATION NEEDS ARE BEING ASSESSED.
[…]

The period over which irrigation is required is likely to be at least two full
growing seasons.

[…]
Where it is possible for enlarged areas to be irrigated commensurate
with root spread and development, a depth of 300 mm is ideal. FOR SOILS WITH GOOD WATER HOLDING CAPACITY this is the equivalent, per application, of 40 L/m2 of soil surface area.”
(from page 72 of BS8545)

REFERENCES:

The British Standards Institution, 2010. British Standard 3998:2010 Tree Work – Recommendations. London: BSI Standards Ltd.
https://shop.bsigroup.com/ProductDetail/...

DRAFT:
http://lists.tree-care.info/sympa/d_read...

The British Standards Institution, 2014. British Standard 8545:2014 Trees: From Nursery to Independence in the Landscape – Recommendations, London: BSI Standards Ltd.
https://shop.bsigroup.com/ProductDetail/...

DRAFT:
http://www.informedtreeservices.co.uk/wp...

*****
On 2nd February 2016 (the day before ‘debate’ of the Nether Edge petition) , SCC announced publication* of, and granted public access to, a document which they claimed had been kept secret as it had been a 'commercially sensitive' contract document: the 'Streets Ahead Five Year Tree Management Strategy (2012 – 2017)'. This was in response to receipt of the SORT letter dated 29th January 2016. It states:

"Street tree maintenance WORK WILL BE CARRIED OUT IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE FOLLOWING STANDARDS and legislation (NOT AN EXHAUSTIVE LIST):
[...]
• BS3998 2010 Tree Works
• BS5837 2005 Trees in Relation to Construction
• NJUG 10 Trees and Utilities
[...]

ANY RELEVANT RESEARCH OR GUIDANCE NOTES ISSUED BY, AND COMMUNICATED THROUGH, INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC SOURCES SUCH AS www.trees.org.uk (Arboricultural Association), www.hse.gov.uk/treework."
(from page 16 of the document)

SOURCE:

http://stocksbridgecommunity.org.archive...

* The SCC announcement:

http://www.sheffieldnewsroom.co.uk/counc...

*****
SCC COMMENT ON THE 5yr CONTRACT DOCUMENT:

“Councillor Terry Fox, the Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, thanked the petitioners and campaigners. He stated…

In an independent report during 2007*, 75 percent of street trees were assessed as being mature or over-mature with potentially catastrophic decline in the health and safety of street trees if a programme of replacement was not undertaken. The Streets Ahead contract was informed by this survey. AMEY HAD A FIVE YEAR TREE STRATEGY WITHIN THE CONTRACT. Information which had been PART OF A CONFIDENTIAL DOCUMENT had now been released as public information.”

SOURCE (page 20 of the minutes of the meeting of full Council that occurred on 3rd February 2016):

http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/docume...

* The 'INDEPENDENT REPORT' can be accessed here:
http://stocksbridgecommunity.org.archive...

It should be read with this:

https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress....

Also see the Outline Business Case that SCC have repeatedly cited to justify the felling of thousands of healthy, structurally sound, mature street trees (see page 20):

http://stocksbridgecommunity.org.archive...

***
AN EXTRACT FROM A TRANSCRIPT OF Cllr Fox's EXACT WORDS AT THE MEETING OF FULL COUNCIL ON 3rd FEBRUARY 2016:

“AMEY HAD THE FIVE YEAR TREE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY WITHIN THEIR CONFIDENTIAL CONTRACT. We listened; we listened to what people have said and we’ve been able to release that document, Lord Mayor, out in to the public. Lord Mayor, with that, we also had an opportunity that we believed in previous ‘debates’, as always throughout here, is that OUR POLICIES AND OUR PROCEDURES ARE UP FOR CHALLENGE. IT HAS BEEN STATED, NOT ONCE, BUT MANY TIMES, THAT TAKING A TREE IS A LAST RESORT; and, to deal with that, and to deal with a small jigsaw piece of the Streets Ahead project, is the reason why we’ve got the Independent Tree Panel”

SOURCE:
An audio file of the meeting of full Council held on 3rd February 2016, named as follows:

‘Cllr Terry Fox - SCC Cabinet Member For Environment And Transport - 3rd February 2016_5yr Doc_Last Resort_ITP_Nether Edge_Petition_160203_008_1_4_2_03’

Mr Long left an annotation ()

A letter to The Star, Sheffield Telegraph, The Yorkshire Post & The Guardian, dated 6th December 2017

Notation and references have been added to support the content (follow the link provided).

*****
"HOW TO RETAIN MEMORIAL TREES

On 20th September 2017, The Star - a Sheffield newspaper - reported on the potential cost of retaining street trees [1]. An extortionate estimate of cost to retain trees was provided. Steve Robinson (then SCC Head of Highway Maintenance) was quoted:

"That's not a result of a detailed design. We would have to spend some money to do a detailed design."

Commenting on the possibility of tree retention, in a report dated 27th November 2017, Philip Beecroft – recently appointed SCC Head of Highway Maintenance – asserted:

“Undertaking this work…would require prioritisation of the potential tree works against other pressing council priorities such as social care.” [2]

Of course, instead, Sheffield City Council (SCC) could use some of the £2 million plus that they have fined Amey for sub-standard works [3]. After all, SCC never whinge when it comes to dipping in to that multi-million pound pot to needlessly squander funds on household felling surveys, a sham “Independent” Tree Panel, surveillance of citizen tree groups, PR, smear, campaigns of misrepresentation, or court cases. All of which have been unnecessary, avoidable and represent malpractice [4] – a reckless use of public resources. Even so, only a relatively small fraction of the fine money has been used on such things, leaving plenty to enable the retention of mature street trees and ensure the SCC Highways PFI Client Team - responsible for monitoring and enforcing standards for the £2.2bn “Streets Ahead” highway maintenance project - is adequately resourced [5].

Amey is the service provider for the £2.2bn “Streets Ahead” highway maintenance project. In 2015, commenting on Amey’s contractual commitments, as SCC Cabinet Member For Environment, Recycling And Streetscene, Cllr Jayne Dunn informed:

“Under the contract they have to fulfil any promise” [6].

As I understand it, a contract is legally binding. In response to a 140 page letter from the Save Our Roadside Trees Group, dated 29th January 2016 (distributed to every Councillor in the city) [4], on 2nd February 2016, Amey released a “commercially sensitive” contract document [7]. Quote:

“The removal of street trees will only be considered as a last resort where there are no other reasonably practicable management options available. […] As part of our commitment to only removing a street tree as a last resort, whenever a tree is found to be either damaging or discriminatory, we consider a list of engineering solutions to establish whether any of these can be employed to retain the tree in situ.”

On 2nd September, 2015, at the second (most recent) meeting of the “bi-monthly” Highway Tree Advisory Forum, Steve Robinson – Beecroft’s predecessor - publicly presented a list of 25 ideas - “engineering solutions” - that could be used to retain mature street trees when resurfacing. The list included: EXCAVATION; “FLEXIBLE PAVING/SURFACING SOLUTION”; RAMPING/RE-PROFILING; USE OF THINNER KERBS; REMOVAL OF DISPLACED KERBS; PRUNING (including pollarding); “creation of LARGER TREE PITS” [7]. He informed:

“THE ENGINEERING AND TREE-BASED SOLUTIONS COME AT NO EXTRA COST TO THE COUNCIL. SO, THE TAX-PAYER DOES NOT PAY if an engineering solution or a tree-based solution can be applied, and the reason for that is that the Streets Ahead project is a highway maintenance project and engineering and tree-based solutions are highway maintenance solutions." [8]

Should works be unaffordable, Mr Robinson informed: “The Council has a defence under the Highways Act - Section 58 defence under the Highways Act – of not having sufficient funding to deal with all those defects.”[9]

There are a number of “strategic goals” listed within the contract document, such as:

“MAXIMISE potential CANOPY COVER through… good arboricultural management”

“Establish a SUSTAINABLE tree stock through… appropriate management.”

“Improve compatibility with environment through HOLISTIC HIGHWAY DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT.”

“Improve function of highway trees through INNOVATIVE DESIGN strategy.”

On numerous occasions, the Council and Amey have asserted that they work to British Standard 5837. The standard states [10]:

“ROOT SYSTEMS, stems and canopies, with allowance for future movement and growth, NEED to be taken into account in all projects…

Where tree retention or planting is proposed…

THE OBJECTIVE SHOULD BE to achieve a harmonious relationship between trees and structures that can be sustained…

A PRECAUTIONARY APPROACH TOWARDS TREE PROTECTION SHOULD BE ADOPTED…

[…] Details of DESIGN PROPOSALS should be developed in conjunction with the project ARBORICULTURIST and, where required, input from a SUITABLY QUALIFIED engineer.”

Time for SCC to enforce contractual commitments [6 & 7] and for SCC & Amey to start implementing current good practice [5].

D.Long (BSc Hons Arb), Sheffield."

SOURCE:
http://stocksbridgecommunity.org.archive...

The contract document can be viewed here:
http://stocksbridgecommunity.org.archive...

Or here:
https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/content/dam...

Mr Long left an annotation ()

A LETTER TO THE STAR (a Sheffield newspaper. Dated 19th December, 2016)
*****
COUNCIL INCOMPETENCE

In his letter – “Council’s performance” – Mr Hanson commented that criticism of Sheffield City Council (SCC), in The Star, seems “to be motivated by a generalised dislike of the Labour Party” and that the causes of damage to “fabric of civilised life” are “the agents of a ruthless market fundamentalism”. With regard to the gross mismanagement of the highway tree population, and the city-wide felling programme that threatens to fell most mature street trees (which accounted for 73.8% of street trees in 2007), I’m afraid the truth is much more scary.

Ultimately, SCC is directly responsible for all acts and omissions that affect street trees. This has been clearly and bluntly stated, time and again, by SCC and Amey – the contractor for the £2.2bn “Streets Ahead” highway maintenance PFI project. Both have repeatedly asserted (falsely) that felling is a “last resort”. Both claim that they are “looking at improving… processes and building on industry good practise”, and that they comply with a range of “National Good Practice”, including the guidance cited in my previous letter* (“City Tree Destruction”). THERE DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE ANY EVIDENCE OF COMPLIANCE. If they genuinely did comply with the range of good practice guidance and recommendations that they claim to, felling genuinely would be a last resort. In fact, it is not.

It is both prudent and reasonable for citizens to expect that, in fulfilment of duties imposed by various legislation, representatives of SCC and all statutory undertakers - including Amey - ensure that their acts and omissions represent the level of care expected of reasonably skilled members of their respective professions. In practice, this requires matching the level of care of current good practice. From what I have witnessed of the replacement of street lighting and road resurfacing works, this is not happening. The Save our Roadside Trees (SORT) Sheffield Tree Action Group have alerted SCC and Amey to all errors multiple times since May 2015, particularly in the SORT letter dated 29/1/2016: distributed to every Councillor, as part of the hand-out for the petition with over 6,295 signatures that the Nether Edge tree group presented to SCC on 3/2/2016. The letter is online, at the STOCKSBRIDGE COMMUNITY FORUM website**.

In a witness statement to The High Court of Justice, SCC’s Director of Development Services - “responsible for highway related-matters” (since gone) - stated that the “purpose” of transferring the majority of the operational, legal and financial risks to Amey was “to incentivise best practice from Amey”.

When I met Cllr Lodge (SCC’s Cabinet member for Environment), on 1st August, 2016, and complained about the apparent disregard for compliance with current good practice, by the Streets Ahead team (SCC & Amey), when undertaking works in close proximity to highway trees, and the apparent absence of adequate supervision, monitoring, auditing and enforcement, Cllr LODGE responded:

“We’re having to shave back on where we’re monitoring. So, the money for the maintenance side is in there, but the monitoring – the client management side – is not part of that, and that’s where we’re having to make funding cuts…

**** THE MONEY THAT WE NEED TO MONITOR THAT CONTRACT IS NOT THERE, ****

because we try to make savings and…where people have left, we haven’t replaced. We’ve done vacancy management, so

**** WE HAVEN’T GOT THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN THAT CLIENT MANAGEMENT TEAM WHICH WE OUGHT TO HAVE.” ****

However, Cllr Lodge did add that SCC HAD FINED AMEY OVER £2 MILLION during 2015, for neglect to meet agreed standards. He added that SCC were “just in the process of taking some action against Amey”, for the same reason. I was led to understand that the fine money was available and could be used specifically to retain trees. UNLESS THERE IS A CHANGE IN THE ATTITUDE OF DECISION-MAKERS, SHEFFIELD STANDS TO LOSE ALMOST ALL ITS MATURE STREET TREES.

D.Long (BSc Hons Arb), Sheffield.”

*****
Source:
https://ianswalkonthewildside.wordpress....

NOTES:

* “City tree destruction” (published on 9th December 2016):
http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/your-say/c...

http://stocksbridgecommunity.org.archive...

** http://stocksbridgecommunity.org.archive...

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