Sheffield Council Leader says no disciplinary action will be taken in light of tree felling saga 

The Leader of Sheffield City Council has said that no resignations will be made – despite an inquiry into the street tree saga finding “a sustained failure of strategic leadership”. 

Sheffield Council signed a contract in 2012 for 17,500 trees to be felled in the city which resulted in huge campaigns under the banner Sheffield Tree Action Groups (STAG).

After years of dispute, an official inquiry report was released yesterday.

Sir Mark Lowcock, Chair of the Inquiry, said: “The plan for the Streets Ahead Programme was flawed from the moment the contract was signed. 

“[The council] lacked transparency, and repeatedly said things that were economical with the truth, misleading and, in some cases, were ultimately exposed as dishonest.”

Leader of the Sheffield Liberal Democrats, Shaffaq Mohammed, called for Council Leader Terry Fox, and Bryan Lodge, who was in charge of the trees programme at the time, to resign. 

Speaking about Coun Fox, Coun Mohammed said: “He clearly knows he is in deep waters here.”

“They have to take personal responsibility. I think their position is untenable.” 

In a statement released yesterday, Coun Mohammed said: “The findings of the report are so serious that I feel not only do they need to step down from their leadership roles in the council, but also need to consider whether they are suitable to continue in their roles as city councillors.”

Coun Fox said: “I want to reiterate the apology to those people involved, the residents of the city and the city itself. We got things wrong.” 

Speaking to BBC Radio Sheffield today, he said: “The easiest thing today would be to just hide away and to not face up to this.

“This is a report that I commissioned, it has recommendations in there we are whole-heartedly going to endorse and we’ve got to move on.”

In response to the report, Chief Executive Kate Josephs said: “We are deeply sorry that this organisation misled the courts, the ITP and most especially the public and accept the inquiry’s findings without any sort of dispute.” 

Coun Lodge offered his resignation but it was declined by Coun Fox as Leader. No one will face disciplinary action within the council at this time. 

The full report on the inquiry can be found here.

Written by Cameron Todd

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