This was published in the Telegraph and the Yorkshire Post this week.
Sheffield City Council’s contract with Amey is worth a cool £2.2 billion pounds. This number is too big for most people to comprehend. So what could we do with £2.2 billion pounds? If we spent it on education a new secondary school costs about £25m. So £2.2 billion could build 88 brand new schools. If it was spent on social housing it could build 36,500 new homes. If the cost was shared equally between the 552,000 population of Sheffield (2011) that would mean a bill of roughly £4000 each (including all the children).
So we are talking about a great deal of money. Sheffield citizens are right to try to ensure this money is spent wisely. Unfortunately it is already quite clear that the way it is being spent warrants a full series of “Rip off Britain”. If I employ a builder to work on my house I check on the work regularly to ensure it is up to standard. Who checks Amey’s work? Well Amey do of course! The Council seem completely unable to hold them to account and ensure the work is of a reasonable quality. Already we are seeing newly laid roads starting to crack. There are health and safety issues all over the city. Amey seem totally incapable of scheduling work to minimise disruption to residents resulting in holes in pavements around lampposts left for 3 months at a time. This has meant people in wheelchairs in my area have been unable to venture outside.
Then we come to the trees. We have been told that the contract includes 14 engineering solutions that Amey can use to avoid felling a tree if it is say, disturbing the pavement or kerb. We have paid for these solutions and they were not cheap! Yet the Council are unable to show us where these solutions have been used. Instead they choose to fell any tree that is causing even the most minor disturbance to the pavement. The mantra that “felling is always a last resort” has clearly been shown to be a lie. That is why tree campaigners have been so vociferous in trying to protect the healthy trees. There is not a good reason to cut them down and more importantly we have already paid for the solutions to enable them to continue providing us with clean air, flood prevention, biodiversity and wonderful beauty. We the citizens of Sheffield are being ripped off but the Council seem more concerned about protecting Amey’s profits than they are about protecting the City they were elected to serve.
Save Norfolk Park Trees