Sheffield Labour: Let your members vote
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The Sheffield trees crisis has produced a clear and significant disconnect between Sheffield Labour Party members and the Labour group on Sheffield City Council (SCC). With 5,500+ street trees felled to date and another 12,000 facing the chainsaw, it is not only squirrels that become grumpy.
The chasm between SCC and others is widening with many local MPs, Labour CLPs, Trade Union organisations and Momentum all passing motions to halt the felling of healthy street trees and to have a mediated settlement with tree campaigners. A 2017 petition supported by 12,000 has seen Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow environment minister join their ranks. Global media coverage, including in The New York Times, has brought shame and embarrassment to Sheffield residents and SCC.
THE POISON OF PFI
The tree crisis is rooted in a controversial 2012 Private Finance Initiative (PFI) for highway maintenance signed between SCC and Amey plc. Amey is a subsidiary of transnational Spanish-owned Ferrovial and we will be paying them £1.7 million every week for 25 years; PFIs are notoriously poor value for taxpayers. National Labour Party policy is to withdraw from PFI contracts and to bring work in-house instead.
ARRESTED FOR TOOTING TOY TRUMPET
Many Sheffield residents feel, however, that this crisis is about much more than trees. Police resources are scarce, yet up to 30 police officers are on site for Amey’s felling of a single tree. Why have so many tree campaigners been arrested…only for most charges to be dropped or deemed unlawful? (Talk about ridiculous: arresting someone for tooting a toy trumpet within metres of a noisy chain saw). And why will we be paying until 2055? People have been shocked by the style of governance in this major, Labour-controlled city: there is, it seems, no truth, no trust and no transparency.
TWO QUESTIONS FOR SECRET BALLOT VOTE
Ordinary Labour Party members need to have their say in a secret ballot of Labour Party members in the most affected constituencies, Sheffield Central, Hallam and Heeley. Only two simple questions are needed:
1) Should the current pause in felling be continued until a strategy for the sustainable management of street trees is agreed?
2) Do you support an immediate mediated settlement to the trees crisis?
PROMPT ACTION NEEDED
As felling will likely resume after the 3 May local elections, we call on the Sheffield District Labour Party (DLP) to organise such a ballot promptly upon receipt of this petition signed by concerned people here in Sheffield and elsewhere, from Labour members and non-members. The DLP will receive a copy at its May meeting.
This petition was developed by the Sheffield campaigning group NO STUMP CITY (firstname.lastname@example.org). It is endorsed by the steering group of Sheffield Tree Action Groups (STAG) (https://savesheffieldtrees.org.uk)
Petitioner: NO STUMP CITY
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