Sheffield left off The Sunday Times’ best places to live list after tree-felling dispute

Sheffield has missed out on a spot on a list of the country’s most desirable places to live due to the ongoing dispute over tree felling.

The Sunday Times’ Best Places to live breakdown for 2018 failed to include the city after the council and its contractor Amey have faced calls to cease cutting down trees after protests and arrests.

The newspaper said: “No room for Sheffield this year, thanks to the bitter battle over council-backed plans for mass tree-felling.”

Since 2012, about 5,500 trees have been felled in Sheffield as part of the council’s £2bn Streets Ahead project, aimed at improving roads and footpaths in the city.

The council insists the trees earmarked to be felled are either “dangerous, dead, diseased, dying, damaging or discriminatory” and are planting saplings to replace the felled trees.

Protests at a tree felling site in Thornsnett Road today.

But many which are classed by the council as “discriminatory” or “damaging” are healthy specimens which campaigners believe should be saved.

Alison Teal, councillor for Nether Edge and Sharrow Ward, said: “It’s all the adverse publicity that Sheffield Council is bringing to the city because of its behaviour.

“They’ve actually got 17,500 trees listed on the contract to be felled. I think that that really did surprise the MPs who’ve spoken out against them – we’ve all been deceived by this council.” 

Other cities in the region fared better in the prestigious guide, with York being named the “best place to live in Britain.”

A Sheffield Council spokesman said: “Sheffield remains the greenest city in Europe and there will be more trees at the end of this programme than when it started, so it is regrettable that the increasingly extreme actions of a small number of protesters is having this impact in the media.”

Chris Rust, co-chair of Sheffield Tree Activist Group (STAG), said though it was a shame the city missed out on the list, it was understandable.

“You make a mess of something which gives you a bad reputation and people start not trusting the council to look after the city. How can you move somewhere when you can’t trust the council to keep it in good shape?”, he added.