Leeds LibDems Seek ‘Sheffield-Strength’ Strategy for City’s Trees

Leeds Liberal Democrats are submitting an amendment at Leeds City Council’s Annual Budget Meeting on Wednesday that seek to invest in a closer relationship between city’s residents – both human and arboreal – in future years

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Councillor Stewart Golton will present the proposal. He said: “The management of the city’s trees has suffered from years of underinvestment, and short-staffing. The Council has an ambitious target for planting thousands of tree seedlings, but no plan as to how they will be managed in future, and little capacity to monitor the thousands of trees we already have.”

Liberal Democrat councillors have been told that there is no maintenance schedule for the street trees that line many roads in the city, and a waiting list of over two years for most requests for cutting back that are not considered ‘dangerous’ by an overstretched forestry team.

“It’s frankly embarrassing when you see what our street trees look like in comparison to other cities. We need more trees planted, but we also need them to be managed to work in harmony with the people they are living alongside, not tripping up pedestrians and casting homes in 24 hour gloomy shadow. In the first instance that means getting more people into our forestry section, and our amendment would fund a team of arboriculturalists to proactively focus on getting our street trees back to a manageable condition. I also think we seriously question why our current parks staff cannot be skilled up to do more tree works within our parks themselves.”

Sheffield City Council famously angered many residents by supporting the removal of street trees by private contractors. However, that traumatic experience delivered a commitment to work with residents to better create and maintain tree cover in a manner that was suitable to particular neighbourhoods.

“The Sheffield Tree Strategy acts as a compact between the Council and residents who want to play a part in improving the environment in their neighbourhood. Leeds Liberal Democrats want a Leeds Tree Strategy that will guarantee a minimum standard of maintenance residents can expect from the Council, and a commitment to enabling residents to take control of their local environment. Residents should not feel the dead hand of the Highways department if they wish to plant trees on their grass verges, and meadow planting beneath, and their contribution should be recognised and enabled. The process of the production of a Leeds Tree Strategy will enable that mature relationship between the Council, residents, and their trees, to evolve.”