Green councillors have issued a challenge to Labour to face the facts in the Highways PFI contract.
The Greens’ motion to council refers to the part of the PFI contract that was published when the Information Commissioner ruled that the council’s refusal to disclose it was unlawful.
Councillor Alison Teal, of Nether Edge and Sharrow ward, said,
“Labour need to face facts. Despite years of spin and misinformation, we can now see, thanks to the Information Commissioner ordering the council to release information, that the contract does require 17,500 trees to be felled.”
“Whatever Cllr Lodge wants us to believe, he cannot escape the reality, which is the contract requires half of Sheffield’s mature street trees to be replaced over the course of the contract. He has shown a lack of the integrity and honesty that is required for public life, and should resign immediately.”
Green councillors also submitted a motion on openness in the council but this was not allowed on to the agenda paper. Labour councillors had earlier voted on restricting the number of motions councillors could submit.
The Information Commissioner ruled against Sheffield City Council on 5th February 2018, and ordered it to publish the disputed information on the Highways PFI contracts. The additional information was published on 8th March 2018.
The Green councillors motion on the Highways PFI is:
Requirements of the Highways PFI contract
Proposed Cllr Douglas Johnson; seconded Cllr Alison Teal
- Notes that this Administration has repeatedly refused to disclose details of the Highways PFI contract signed in 2012.
- Notes that this Administration has repeatedly put out statements that:
- a. Trees are only felled as a last resort
- b. Trees are only felled in accordance with the 6 Ds criteria: i.e. if they are dead, dying, diseased, dangerous, damaging footpaths, private property or roads or ‘discriminatory.’
- c. There are no targets to fell trees
- Notes that the Council’s refusal to release part of the contract was found to be unlawful by the Information Commissioner, who ordered that further parts of the contract be released
- Notes that the newly-released extracts from the contract show that there was a contractual requirement for Amey to replace highway trees “at a rate of not less than 200 per year.”
- Further notes that it is a contractual requirement for Amey to replace 17,500 highway trees by the end of the 25-year contract.
- Believes that the Administration’s statements set out above are incompatible with these contractual requirements
- Therefore asks the Administration to admit that those statements were untrue and
- Resolves that this Council has no confidence in the present Administration to tell the truth
The Green councillors motion on Openness in the Council is:
Openness in the Council
Proposed Cllr Rob Murphy; seconded Magid Magid
- Notes a number of recent occasions where decisions made behind closed doors have caused reputational damage to Sheffield City Council, for example the Chinese Investment Deal regarding the Central Library, the Highways PFI with Amey and the recent Call-In on the Mount Pleasant development.
- Notes these occasions follow a history of secrecy on Sheffield City Council which has led to a bad public image and criminal investigations e.g. the Hillsborough Disaster Cover-up and the Roger Dodds scandal,
- Notes despite promises that recordings of meetings of the Full Council remain unpublished
- Notes the rejection of Budget amendments from two of the opposition parties that provided for the recording and public viewing of public meetings of the Council.
- Notes a huge amount of Officer time and resources is spent on dealing with Freedom of Information requests.
- Believes all public council meeting should be recorded and made publicly available via the council website.
- Believes all Council contracts over £500 should be disclosed on the grounds of public interest.
- Believes all meetings between planning officers and developers and procurement officers and commercial interest should be registered.