No resignations at Sheffield Council over tree felling controversy

A report investigated the council's behaviour in bitter disputes over the felling of thousands of street trees. Credit: PA

Bosses at Sheffield City Council say no-one will lose their job despite a damning inquiry which found the authority had misled the public over the felling of trees in the city.

Thousands of trees in the city were removed as part of a £2.2bn road improvement programme. It led to protests, arrests and violent clashes between objectors and security staff.

A report published on Monday said Sheffield City Council's behaviour during years of bitter disputes over the removal of trees "amounted to a serious and sustained failure of strategic leadership" and said the authority had been "dishonest".

The council has apologised, but leader Terry Fox said on Tuesday that he would not resign.

He said: "I still feel that I have a lot to offer and experience...the scars on my back going forward to help this organisation get the trust it deserves"

Kate Josephs (L) and Cllr Terry Fox (R) Credit: ITV News

The saga peaked between 2016 and 2018 when protests broke out in some of Sheffield's leafiest suburbs over the council's controversial tree felling programme.

More than 40 people were arrested as police were deployed.

The report said about 5,600 trees were removed and replaced between 2013 and 2018.

Despite being part of the administration when the protests took place, Cllr Fox said that in the 10-year period between 2008 to 2018 he was only a cabinet member for one year.

He admitted that the council has a "long way to go" to earn the public's trust back and said it was "hard" to revisit the events in the report.

He said: "It was hellish for a lot of people in this city. We've got to learn from that and we've got to make sure that we're able to put forward policies that take our residents with us not against us."

Chief executive Kate Josephs, who joined the council in 2021, after the controversy - confirmed that nobody would face any action as a consequence of the report, which found that even the courts were misled by the council.

She said that while it was accepted that a document supplied to court hearings was misleading, no individual knowingly gave misleading or false evidence to a judge.

The chief executive said the authority would reach out to all those affected.

Ms Josephs said: "We, as a council, need to make sincere personal apologies to a significant number of people individually for the harm that they have experienced as a result of this."

She said: "We're going to take time to identify every single person and reach out to them directly."

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