Sheffield City Council has issued a detailed apology for its actions during the street tree dispute. This was debated at the Council’s Strategy and Resources Committee on 19/6/23.

Here is Green Group Leader Councillor Douglas Johnson’s response to that apology.

“I welcome the report of Sir Mark Lowcock, this council’s formal response to it and the detailed and thorough apology given to the citizens of Sheffield for the way the council treated them over many years.”

“When Cllr Alison Teal and I negotiated the holding of an inquiry into the council’s handling of street trees, it was done in our knowledge of the real harm and upset caused to so many people in the city from the loss of magnificent trees, in many case, the very best physical things on the streets where they lived. Residents expressed this hurt eloquently and in detail at a very early stage of the tree-felling campaign.

“Sir Mark Lowcock agrees those expressions should have been heeded. There were many voices that should have been heeded at the time.

“In 2021, the context of setting up the street tree inquiry was that the council had already changed dramatically. It was immediately after the governance referendum where the people of Sheffield resoundingly voted for a change in the way the council was run. The ruling group had lost its overall majority control of the council such that the parties now had to work together.

“The Lowcock report has exposed truths that are uncomfortable to some but which are absolutely the vital issues that demonstrated how the council got things so wrong for so long.
In the 2 years since then, the council has changed incomparably, with a near-total change of senior leadership at both political and officer levels. More to the point, this has triggered a welcome change in culture.

“That is not to say that things are perfect – or even acceptable – in all cases. There is a lot more to do. However, the progress leading up to today’s apology reset the trajectory of the council’s future. That is something that the residents of Sheffield who became involved in campaigns over many years should be able to take credit for.”