20th April 2017
Written this month by Helen McIlroy
Another busy month in the campaign to save our trees, trying to persuade SCC/Amey to adopt a sustainable tree management policy in accordance with the United Kingdom Forestry Standard and to work within National Joint Utilities Group regulations on all street works in proximity to trees, including best practice as defined by government guidelines.
Nether Edge people’s success – but no cause for celebration
After felling was halted on St Ronan’s Road, thanks to the intervention of barrister Paul Powlesland followed by South Yorkshire Police’s statement that they will no longer intervene against peaceful protests, nothing has been seen of Amey or Acorn in Nether Edge, apart from the necessary and welcome removal of a broken branch on Agden Road. However they have been busy in other parts of thehan city where people are less aware, and people from Nether Edge and other local groups have supported tree-loving locals in areas where they are outnumbered, and in some cases even afraid to speak out, after SCC’s misguided and divisive ‘survey’ which gave some people the illusion that they ‘own’ certain trees and therefore have a right to make life-or-death decisions over them – so long as they agree with SCC. We know of 25 trees lost this month across the city, but there may well be more in areas where we don’t have eyes on the streets. There is currently an ongoing campaign on an estate in Handsworth which backs onto the Parkway, with all its exhaust fumes.
The Independent Tree Panel results for Kenwood, Kenwood Park and Wostenholm Roads were published just hours before the writing of this Newsletter which means that the trees on those roads are now potentially at immediate risk, so all tree lovers need to be alert and ready if we want to see another real Nether Edge Spring.
Before the trees are fully in leaf is a great time for spotting nests, so please keep your eyes open everyone (they’re not always easy to see – small birds have small nests, and as prey to the larger species they are often well hidden) and TAKE PICTURES and put up signs on any threatened tree with a nest in it as it is ILLEGAL to interfere with ANY species of nesting bird. Better still, if you see activity in or around the nest, do try to film it.
Meanwhile our intrepid ribboners are venturing higher up the trees to outwit the phantom deribboner who haunts our streets. If you spot such a person, try to get a description (or better still a photo if you can do it discreetly) as they are potentially walking our streets with a naked blade on a pole, which would be a matter for the Police. Please take care if you are going up a ladder. There was an incident recently where an irate resident interfered with a ladder while someone was at the top of it. Don’t go ribboning alone!
New Traffic Restriction Orders in the area
Traffic Restriction Orders (TROs) are coming into force on some streets in Nether Edge from 20th April, restricting access to pedestrians as well as to vehicular traffic. We do not know how these will be enforced, but we are seeking legal advice and at ways to challenge this latest attempt to keep citizens away from our trees and allow Amey to vandalise our neighbourhood. Felling notices have also been delivered to some streets in this and other areas for 26th April. The peaceful solidarity shown on Chippinghouse and other Roads which led to Amey’s withdrawal from the area some weeks ago is likely to be needed again soon.
The wider campaign – too much to ask?
But the campaign is not just about ribboning and tree protection. By keeping the pressure on SCC and Amey, letting them know that we have not given up and gone away, we hope to make them sit down and rethink what they are doing. A large ship takes a long time to change course, but it can still be done. We want to persuade them to adopt a sustainable tree management policy in accordance with the United Kingdom Forestry Standard and to work within National Joint Utilities Group regulations on all street works in proximity to trees, including best practice as defined by government guidelines. Is that too much to ask?
Pressure was neatly applied to SCC at this month’s full council meeting when Nether Edge councillor Alison Teal said that councillor Lodge had ‘misled’ the public over the use of flexipave, after a series of contradictory answers to questions from various people over the past year, and was voted out of the Chamber by the ruling block and all opposition Councillors walked out in support. Alison was voted out of the Chamber after she refused to withdraw her allegation, for which there is plenty of evidence. All the other Opposition Councillors, from all parties, walked out in support.
Since all charges were dropped against the 14 arrestees, they are making a claim for unlawful arrest under Human Rights legislation. It will be a long and slow process, but they have excellent legal support from a local firm.
This month’s monthly meeting at the Banner Cross Hotel, led by Sally W and David P, was a brilliant opportunity to meet and talk in small groups to explore ideas for further approaches to publicise what is happening and to try to change it. Good to see so many familiar faces and some new ones too.
A fantastic event
Roots of Steel Music Festival, organised by Shelley, Mark and Josie was a fun-filled success, raising valuable funds for the campaign.
The next meeting will be upstairs at the Banner Cross Hotel on Monday 24th April at 7.30. Everyone welcome.