Trees unite Nick Clegg and Michael Gove

Nick Clegg really didn’t get on that well with Michael Gove when they served in the Cabinet together and Gove’s position as a key Brexiteer merely exacerbated the antipathy between them. There was even less love lost between Nick and Gove’s former special adviser Dominic Cumming who went on to run the leave campaign.

So it is quite amusing to see the two men on the same side of an argument – over those trees in Sheffield that the Council insists on chopping down, against the wishes of local residents. Last year Nick compared the Police reaction to protests to Putin’s Russia.

In scenes you’d expect to see in Putin’s Russia, rather than a Sheffield suburb, council contractors and police descended on Rustlings Road under the cover of darkness, dragged people out of bed to move their cars and detained peaceful protesters – all to chop down eight trees. The battle to save the Rustlings Road trees has been long and hard-fought and I am impressed with the tenacity of local people and their peaceful, well-articulated, reasoned opposition.

Now Environment Secretary Gove has come out against the tree-felling as reported in the Guardian:

“It is clear that many of Sheffield’s residents are deeply frustrated and angry at the decision to remove a large number of trees from local streets.

“Understandably, local people place a significant value on their green spaces, and their local environment, and these trees are a really important part of that. We know trees and and leafy streets make places healthier, cleaner and more desirable places to live.”

Who ever thought we’d see those two eye to eye on anything?

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6 Comments

  • Graham Evans 10th Aug '17 - 9:53pm

    I wonder what the new Labour MP for Hallam has to say about his party’s tree cutting activities?

  • Graham,

    Probably “Timber” 😉

  • David Pocock 11th Aug '17 - 9:56am

    Could be a party game, guess the labour statement

    According to labour it is OK as 20000 new trees have been planted at an over all cost of £200

    Seriously though it might not be a vote winner but I would support policy to get private interest out of local government.

  • I like [sarcasm] the statement: “Trees are only marked for replacement if they are dead, dying, diseased, dangerous, damaging (footpaths, private property or roads) or discriminatory (meaning the tree creates difficulty for elderly, disabled and partially sighted people when using the footpath)”

    Under these guidelines, I could make a case for any tree, including many of the “additional 65,000 trees have been planted in the city since the beginning of the Streets Ahead programme in 2012”, to be marked for ‘replacement’.

    Interestingly, looking through the Strrets Ahead tree management plan [ https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/home/roads-pavements/streets-ahead/streets-ahead-documents ], I would suggest residents (and action groups) should be demanding that Sheffield Council give them full access to the full and unabridged inspection reports that are required to be made for each individual tree, and for such access to be given within 8 working hours of an assessment for replacement (they claim to be using a fully digital integrated data collection computer system so the data will be on the system typical within minutes and certainly by the start of the next working day) – ie. before any replacement strategy has been agreed and most certainly before any work has been scheduled.

    The above is ‘trivial’ to achieve, most local authorities already give similar access to their planning system via their websites. Additionally, some authorities maintain web access to databases of street defects – so I can view reports from other members of the public and the status of works to rectify.

  • Helen Tedcastle 12th Aug '17 - 3:44pm

    ” Who ever thought we’d see those two eye to eye on anything?”

    How about casting our minds back to 2010, and Clegg’s backing of Gove’s Education BIll, which brought in Free Schools, mass academisation, the narrow EBac curriculum, performance-related pay for teachers, new GCSEs. new A levels etc…

    Need I say more? Clegg backed it all despite loud protestations from many party members who saw through Gove very quickly.

    It took Clegg around 2 years to realise that Gove and Cummings were wrecking education but by then the Bill had become an Act.

  • Richard Underhill 1st Oct '17 - 7:59pm

    BBC1 Countryfile on Sunday 1/10/2017 covered this issue without saying that Sheffield council is controlled by Labour. They mentioned Michael Gove MP (Tory) and a Green Sheffield councillor. They also gave lots of coverage to the origins of the Ramblers Association with references to Labour and socialism. The stated origins of the trees in industrial Sheffield is interestingly environmental and nostalgic.
    The use of chippers is also an environmental negative, noisy and wasting wood which might be used for wood-burning stoves (don’t inhale). The trees are broadleaf, maybe plane. If so they were probably planted because of survival chances from industrial pollution (the bark sheds).
    Countryfile shows a woman in a wheelchair campaigning to save the trees and explaining why the council got it wrong. They are also fundraising for charity on a large scale.

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