Anger is growing after shock revelations showing Sheffield Labour council’s secret plans to cut down half of its 36,000 street trees. This is under a £2.2 billion PFI deal with multinational Amey.
Calls for councillors and officials to resign have been made after trees protesters forced the council to reveal its plans after a long running Freedom of Information request. Tree chopping targets had previously been denied.
Protesters say the release of the information is a “smoking gun” vindicating the campaign which has seen an increase in support from Labour Party members, including Heeley CLP which voted overwhelmingly for the tree felling to stop.
Trade unions, including Unite and NUJ branches, have also backed protesters and demanded the PFI contract be scrapped.
In recent weeks protesters have been battling against a big rise in police numbers bolstering private security in trying to prevent protests during street felling operations. Several arrests have been made but no charges laid.
A 74 year old man was arrested last week taking photographs of security guards on suspicion of intimidating witnesses.
Campaigners say the plans to axe 17,500 trees show that councillors, officials and Amey bosses have been lying. So far 5,500 trees have been cut down since 2012.
Campaigners have battled for the last year for non-commercially sensitive parts of the contract to be released.
The Information Commissioner finally ordered previously redacted sections to be made accessible to the public, threatening the council with legal action last month if there was no publication within 35 days.
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