Tree works (non essential) over private property in the hours of darkness

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Sheffield City Council should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Dear Sheffield City Council,

During the winter months of 2017/18, primarily December and January, Amey regularly and persistently attempted, and in many cases succeeded in carrying out non emergency tree works pursuant to the Streetsahead contract in the early hours of the morning, typically between 01:00hrs and 07:00hrs during the hours of darkness.

The principle objective of this work was to remove branches that over-extended (oversailed) private property or non-highway land, although at least one tree was felled too.

The explicit intention of this activity by Amey was to curtail the option of residents standing beneath trees on their own property (as discussed and confirmed in the multi-agency meeting held by South Yorkshire Police on 5th February 2018), to stop the felling of healthy street trees in the hours of daylight which was not pursuant to the Highways Act.

For context the council had previously and definitively stated that no such work would be undertaken before 07:00hrs - https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/council-a...

1. Please provide all records and communications that the council hold regarding non-emergency work relating to street trees, both planned and completed in the hours of darkness pursuant to the Streetsahead contract.
2. Did the council provide any advice on the legality of these works?
3. Was permission sought from the property owners before removal of over-extending (oversail) branches as is required by law.
4. Was the council informed or consulted about these particular works? If so when?
5. Did the council approve and sign off these works?
6. Have the council had sight of the risk assessments prepared by Amey for this work undertaken in the hours of darkness? Are the council satisfied that health and safety legislation was adhered to in the execution of these works pursuant to the Streetsahead contract?

Yours faithfully,

Justin Buxton

FOI, Sheffield City Council

Dear Justin Buxton,
 
Thank you for your request for information relating to Tree works (non
essential) over private property in the hours of darkness which we
received on 29/07/2019.
 
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.
 
Before we can begin to process your Freedom of Information Request, we
would like to clarify what information you require.
 
For question 1, can you please specify the timescale of records and
communications you are looking for e.g. December and January 2017/2018 or
a longer time period
 
The Freedom of Information Act states that we must respond to a Freedom of
Information request within 20 working days, however, the 20 working days
do not include any time spent clarifying a request.  Therefore, once we
have received your clarification, we can continue processing your request
within this time frame.
 
You can provide your clarification by writing to the address above,
emailing [1][Sheffield City Council request email] or by telephoning 0114 2734567 and asking
for the Information and Knowledge Management Team.
 
We look forward to hearing from you.
 
Sheffield City Council
PO Box 1283
Sheffield, S1 1UJ
Email: [2][Sheffield City Council request email]
P Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to
 
 
 
_____________________________________________
From: Mr. Buxton [[3]mailto:[FOI #593252 email]]
Sent: 29 July 2019 23:10
To: FOI
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Tree works (non essential) over
private property in the hours of darkness
 
 
Dear Sheffield City Council,
 
During the winter months of 2017/18, primarily December and January, Amey
regularly and persistently attempted, and in many cases succeeded in
carrying out non emergency tree works pursuant to the Streetsahead
contract in the early hours of the morning, typically between 01:00hrs and
07:00hrs during the hours of darkness.
 
The principle objective of this work was to remove branches that
over-extended (oversailed) private property or non-highway land, although
at least one tree was felled too.
 
The explicit intention of this activity by Amey was to curtail the option
of residents standing beneath trees on their own property (as discussed
and confirmed in the multi-agency meeting held by South Yorkshire Police
on 5th February 2018), to stop the felling of healthy street trees in the
hours of daylight which was not pursuant to the Highways Act.
 
For context the council had previously and definitively stated that no
such work would be undertaken before 07:00hrs -
[4]https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/council-a...
 
1.      Please provide all records and communications that the council
hold regarding non-emergency work relating to street trees, both planned
and completed in the hours of darkness pursuant to the Streetsahead
contract.
2.      Did the council provide any advice on the legality of these works?
3.      Was permission sought from the property owners before removal of
over-extending (oversail) branches as is required by law.
4.      Was the council informed or consulted about these particular
works? If so when?
5.      Did the council approve and sign off these works?
6.      Have the council had sight of the risk assessments prepared by
Amey for this work undertaken in the hours of darkness? Are the council
satisfied that health and safety legislation was adhered to in the
execution of these works pursuant to the Streetsahead contract?
 
Yours faithfully,
 
Justin Buxton
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[5][FOI #593252 email]
 
Is [6][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:
[7]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/change_re...
 
Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
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For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
latest advice from the ICO:
[9]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/ico-...
 
Please note that in some cases publication of requests and responses will
be delayed.
 
If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.
 
 

show quoted sections

Dear FOI,

The information I require includes all communications and records related to the planning and implementation of these non-essential tree works carried out by Amey or their subcontractors during 2017/18 in the hours of darkness, please also include any records and communications related to these specific works after they ceased.

I imagine that a limited number of people will be in possession of this information and it is unlikely that there is a large quantity of information. However, if this request is likely to trigger a time limit exemption please contact me so I can narrow by criteria.

Yours sincerely,

Mr. Buxton

FOI, Sheffield City Council

Dear Justin Buxton,
 
Thank you for your request for information relating to Tree works (non
essential) over private property in the hours of darkness which we
received on 29/07/2019.
 
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 27.08.2019.
 
In the meantime, if you have any queries please, contact us at the email
address below.
 
Thank you.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Sheffield City Council
PO Box 1283
Sheffield, S1 1UJ
Email: [1][Sheffield City Council request email]
P Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to
 
 
_____________________________________________
From: Rollett Gemma (CEX) On Behalf Of FOI
Sent: 30 July 2019 14:11
To: '[FOI #593252 email]'
Subject: Clarification Request – Freedom of Information Request –
Reference – FOI / 669
 
 
Dear Justin Buxton,
 
Thank you for your request for information relating to Tree works (non
essential) over private property in the hours of darkness which we
received on 29/07/2019.
 
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.
 
Before we can begin to process your Freedom of Information Request, we
would like to clarify what information you require.
 
For question 1, can you please specify the timescale of records and
communications you are looking for e.g. December and January 2017/2018 or
a longer time period
 
The Freedom of Information Act states that we must respond to a Freedom of
Information request within 20 working days, however, the 20 working days
do not include any time spent clarifying a request.  Therefore, once we
have received your clarification, we can continue processing your request
within this time frame.
 
You can provide your clarification by writing to the address above,
emailing [2][Sheffield City Council request email] or by telephoning 0114 2734567 and asking
for the Information and Knowledge Management Team.
 
We look forward to hearing from you.
 
Sheffield City Council
PO Box 1283
Sheffield, S1 1UJ
Email: [3][Sheffield City Council request email]
P Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to
 
 
 
_____________________________________________
From: Mr. Buxton [[4]mailto:[FOI #593252 email]]
Sent: 29 July 2019 23:10
To: FOI
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Tree works (non essential) over
private property in the hours of darkness
 
 
Dear Sheffield City Council,
 
During the winter months of 2017/18, primarily December and January, Amey
regularly and persistently attempted, and in many cases succeeded in
carrying out non emergency tree works pursuant to the Streetsahead
contract in the early hours of the morning, typically between 01:00hrs and
07:00hrs during the hours of darkness.
 
The principle objective of this work was to remove branches that
over-extended (oversailed) private property or non-highway land, although
at least one tree was felled too.
 
The explicit intention of this activity by Amey was to curtail the option
of residents standing beneath trees on their own property (as discussed
and confirmed in the multi-agency meeting held by South Yorkshire Police
on 5th February 2018), to stop the felling of healthy street trees in the
hours of daylight which was not pursuant to the Highways Act.
 
For context the council had previously and definitively stated that no
such work would be undertaken before 07:00hrs -
[5]https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/council-a...
 
1.      Please provide all records and communications that the council
hold regarding non-emergency work relating to street trees, both planned
and completed in the hours of darkness pursuant to the Streetsahead
contract.
2.      Did the council provide any advice on the legality of these works?
3.      Was permission sought from the property owners before removal of
over-extending (oversail) branches as is required by law.
4.      Was the council informed or consulted about these particular
works? If so when?
5.      Did the council approve and sign off these works?
6.      Have the council had sight of the risk assessments prepared by
Amey for this work undertaken in the hours of darkness? Are the council
satisfied that health and safety legislation was adhered to in the
execution of these works pursuant to the Streetsahead contract?
 
Yours faithfully,
 
Justin Buxton
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[6][FOI #593252 email]
 
Is [7][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:
[8]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/change_re...
 
Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
[9]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...
 
For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
latest advice from the ICO:
[10]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/ico-...
 
Please note that in some cases publication of requests and responses will
be delayed.
 
If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.
 
 

show quoted sections

FOI, Sheffield City Council

Link: [1]File-List

Dear Justin Buxton,

 

Before we can continue to process your request in relation to FOI 669, we
require further clarification from you.

 

Please could you clarify what you mean in question 2, where you have
asked  “Did the council provide any advice on the legality of these
works?” We are unsure as to whom you think the advice may have been
provided. Does this refer any affected residents, to the general public,
 to our sub-contractor(s) or to anyone else? 

 

The Freedom of Information Act states that we must respond to a Freedom of
Information request within 20 working days, however, the 20 working days
do not include any time spent clarifying a request.  Therefore, once we
have received your clarification, we can continue processing your request
within this time frame.

 

You can provide your clarification by writing to the address above,
emailing [2][Sheffield City Council request email] or by telephoning 0114 2734567 and asking
for the Information and Knowledge Management Team.

 

We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Sheffield City Council

PO Box 1283

Sheffield, S1 1UJ

Email: [3][Sheffield City Council request email]

P Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear FOI,
I am seeking to ascertain whether legal advice or opinion was provided to any of the following:
Council officers,
Councillors,
Amey and/or any of their subcontractors,
and residents,
related to non essential tree works carried out in the hours of darkness, particularly but not exclusively regarding the removal of branches overreaching (oversailing) private property.

Yours sincerely,

Mr. Buxton

FOI, Sheffield City Council

Link: [1]File-List

Dear Justin Buxton,

 

Thank you for your recent clarification relating to Tree works (non
essential) over private property in the hours of darkness which we
received on 14/08/2019.

 

We will now continue to deal with this under the Freedom of Information
Act.  The reference number for your request can be found above.

 

Please note your amended due by date is 03/09/2019.

 

In the meantime, if you have any queries please, contact us at the email
address below.

 

Thank you.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Sheffield City Council

PO Box 1283

Sheffield, S1 1UJ

Email: [2][Sheffield City Council request email]

P Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to

 

 

show quoted sections

FOI, Sheffield City Council

Dear Mr Buxton,

 

Thank you for your request for information relating to Tree works
(non-essential) over private property in the hours of darkness which we
received on 29/07/2019.

 

Please find below Sheffield City Council’s response to your request:

 

1.    Please provide all records and communications that the council  hold
regarding non-emergency work relating to street trees, both planned  and
completed in the hours of  darkness pursuant to the Streetsahead contract.

 

Sheffield City Council do not hold any data relating to this matter. 

 

2.    Did the council provide any advice on the legality of these works?

 

No. In addition, no legal advice or opinion was sought by Amey from the
Council.

 

3.    Was permission sought from the property owners before removal of
over-extending (oversail) branches as is required by law.

 

No because all works were carried out from the highway without entering
onto the private property and consequently permission from property owners
was not needed.

 

4.    Was the council informed or consulted about these particular works?
If so when?

 

No.

 

5.    Did the council approve and sign off these works?

 

No.  Amey are not required to seek approval for this type of work from the
Council.

 

6.    Have the council had sight of the risk assessments prepared by Amey
for this work undertaken in the hours of darkness? Are the council 
satisfied that health and safety legislation was adhered to in the 
execution of these works pursuant to the Streetsahead contract?

 

No.  Amey are contracted to deliver the service. They do not have to
provide risk assessments to the Council to approve. Amey are responsible
for the delivery of works in a safe and efficient manner including
carrying out appropriate risk assessments.

 

 

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
[1][Sheffield City Council request email].  Internal review requests should be submitted
within 40 working days from the date of this response.

 

If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of your internal review, you
can contact the Information Commissioner’s 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 [2]www.ico.org.uk

 

Kind Regards,

 

Sheffield City Council

PO Box 1283

Sheffield, S1 1UJ

Email: [3][Sheffield City Council request email]

P Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to

 

This Email, and any attachments, may contain non-public information and is
intended solely for the individual(s) to whom it is addressed. It may
contain sensitive or protectively marked material and should be handled
accordingly. If this Email has been misdirected, please notify the author
immediately. If you are not the intended recipient you must not disclose,
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or attached, and all copies must be deleted immediately. Whilst we take
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to this Email may nevertheless contain viruses which our anti-virus
software has failed to identify. You should therefore carry out your own
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will not accept any liability for damage caused by computer viruses
emanating from any attachment or other document supplied with this e-mail

References

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2. http://www.ico.org.uk/
3. mailto:[Sheffield City Council request email]

Dear FOI,

Your response to my question number 3 would depend upon shared information or briefing about these operations by Amey and mean that Sheffield City Council was aware of and has communicated regarding the operations I’ve described in my information request. I therefore question the veracity of the remainder of your responses.

Please clarify the provenance and origin of this statement - “No because all works were carried out from the highway without entering onto the private property and consequently permission from property owners was not needed.”

It is also inconceivable that Amey were unaware of Councillor Lodge’s assertion that tree works would not commence before 7.00am and it’s very doubtful whether they would commence night time tree works without approval by SCC. If they did instigate these night time operations prior to consulting SCC it would indicate grave misconduct and demonstrate blatant disregard for the elected cabinet member with political responsibility for their contract.

Furthermore, as the tree works I refer to were outside normal working hours and were non-emergency works, Amey would be legally obliged to issue 'notice of works' and obtain approval of SCC pursuant to the New Roads and Streetworks Act 1991, prior to commencement.

This is not a request for an internal review at this stage. I’m giving SCC an opportunity to discharge their legal obligations and reply thoroughly and rigorously to my original information request.

Yours sincerely,

Mr. Buxton

FOI, Sheffield City Council

Dear Mr Buxton

I am writing in reply to your email asking us to reconsider our response to FOI 669. Whilst we acknowledge that you have specifically stated that this is not a request for internal review, you have questioned the accuracy of our response, and, in order to reply fully to your email, we will need to review our initial response to your request. Therefore, we feel it is appropriate to deal with your email under the internal review process.

We received your request for review on 05/09/2019 and we endeavour to provide a response to internal reviews within 20 working days, by 03/10/2019.

In the meantime, if you have any queries please, contact us at the email address below.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Sheffield City Council
PO Box 1283
Sheffield, S1 1UJ
Email: [Sheffield City Council request email]
Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to

show quoted sections

FOI, Sheffield City Council

Link: [1]File-List

Dear Mr Buxton

.

Thank you for your recent request for an internal review relating to Tree
works (non-essential) over private property in the hours of darkness which
we received on 04/09/2019. We are sorry to hear that you are not happy
with your response.

 

This has now been logged and will be carried out by a member of the team

 

You should expect to hear a response from us by 02/10/2019.

 

In the meantime, if you have any queries please, contact us at the email
address below.

 

Thank you.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Sheffield City Council

PO Box 1283

Sheffield, S1 1UJ

Email: [2][Sheffield City Council request email]

P Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Kaplan Leon (CEX), Sheffield City Council

Dear Mr Buxton

I am sorry that we have missed our deadline of 2 October 2019 to provide
the outcome of our internal review. Please expect our response by 18
October 2019, due to pressure of work.

Kind regards

Sheffield City Council

PO Box 1283

Sheffield, S1 1UJ

[1][Sheffield City Council request email]

This Email, and any attachments, may contain non-public information and is
intended solely for the individual(s) to whom it is addressed. It may
contain sensitive or protectively marked material and should be handled
accordingly. If this Email has been misdirected, please notify the author
immediately. If you are not the intended recipient you must not disclose,
distribute, copy, print or rely on any of the information contained in it
or attached, and all copies must be deleted immediately. Whilst we take
reasonable steps to try to identify any software viruses, any attachments
to this Email may nevertheless contain viruses which our anti-virus
software has failed to identify. You should therefore carry out your own
anti-virus checks before opening any documents. Sheffield City Council
will not accept any liability for damage caused by computer viruses
emanating from any attachment or other document supplied with this e-mail

References

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1. mailto:[Sheffield City Council request email]

Kaplan Leon (CEX), Sheffield City Council

Dear Mr Buxton

We have reviewed our response to you of 4 September 2019 in the light of your comments of the same date.

We can clarify that our response to question 3 was based on information obtained from Amey when we were pulling together information in order to respond to your initial enquiry. We asked Amey if permission was sought from the property owners before removal of over-extending (oversail) branches and they informed us that they did not seek permission from property owners as they had designed the work to be carried out without entering onto the private property.

Although your original information request did not refer to the start time of the works (just that it was during the hours of darkness), we can confirm that following discussions with Amey, the Cabinet Member at the time agreed that pruning works could start before 7:00 am so long as they were pruning works only and carried out by hand tools so not creating a noise issue. A press release to that effect was issued in late Nov 2017 confirming this approach which was applicable to pruning works only.

With regard to your query about the issuing of a "notice of works", we can clarify that Local Authorities and others working on the highway do not have to register every item of work that they carry out. For example, registration is not required for road markings and similar works that do not require excavation of the highway. The streets where the pruning works were to be carried out had previously been registered by Amey on Streetworks and Traffic Regulation Orders were in place to facilitate works.

I trust that satisfies your concerns, but if you are still dissatisfied, you can ask the Information Commissioner for a decision: [email address]

Kind regards

Sheffield City Council
PO Box 1283
Sheffield, S1 1UJ
[Sheffield City Council request email]

This Email, and any attachments, may contain non-public information and is intended solely for the individual(s) to whom it is addressed. It may contain sensitive or protectively marked material and should be handled accordingly. If this Email has been misdirected, please notify the author immediately. If you are not the intended recipient you must not disclose, distribute, copy, print or rely on any of the information contained in it or attached, and all copies must be deleted immediately. Whilst we take reasonable steps to try to identify any software viruses, any attachments to this Email may nevertheless contain viruses which our anti-virus software has failed to identify. You should therefore carry out your own anti-virus checks before opening any documents. Sheffield City Council will not accept any liability for damage caused by computer viruses emanating from any attachment or other document supplied with this e-mail

Dear Kaplan Leon (CEX),

I note that your response to my Information Request dated 29th July 2019, titled 'Tree works (non essential) over private property in the hours of darkness', your Reference – FOI / 669 was less than truthful, as subsequent information evidences. Please advise me of the avenues available for pursuing this serious and potentially criminal issue of intentionally concealing information.

Yours sincerely,

Mr. Buxton

FOI, Sheffield City Council

Dear Mr Buxton

Thank you for your email of 10 January 2020.

I will get back to you by 24 January 2020.

 

Kind regards

 

Leon Kaplan

Information Management Officer

Business Change and Information Solutions (BCIS)

Resources Portfolio

Sheffield City Council

PO Box 1283, Sheffield, S1 1UJ

0114 2039378

[1]www.sheffield.gov.uk

 

This Email, and any attachments, may contain non-public information and is
intended solely for the individual(s) to whom it is addressed. It may
contain sensitive or protectively marked material and should be handled
accordingly. If this Email has been misdirected, please notify the author
immediately. If you are not the intended recipient you must not disclose,
distribute, copy, print or rely on any of the information contained in it
or attached, and all copies must be deleted immediately. Whilst we take
reasonable steps to try to identify any software viruses, any attachments
to this Email may nevertheless contain viruses which our anti-virus
software has failed to identify. You should therefore carry out your own
anti-virus checks before opening any documents. Sheffield City Council
will not accept any liability for damage caused by computer viruses
emanating from any attachment or other document supplied with this e-mail

References

Visible links
1. http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/