Following the signing of the Co-operative Agreement between Labour and Green Groups, we are establishing an Independent Inquiry into the management of the street trees dispute.

The purpose of this inquiry is to:

  • investigate and understand what happened and why
  • rebuild trust between the Council and residents
  • make recommendations for the future

We want to make this inquiry as transparent as possible and keep the public up to date with its progress. This page will share:

  • updates on the inquiry progress and next steps
  • dates and times for all meetings and evidence sessions
  • meeting minutes and other documentation
  • how to have your say through the Street Trees Narratives

Inquiry progress

The first step in this Independent Inquiry was to recruit external independent legal advisers. The second is to appoint an Independent Chair for the Inquiry through an open recruitment process.

This work has involved an exhaustive, nationally promoted recruitment campaign and a robust interview process involving Elected Members, Senior Officers and a stakeholder panel. The result of this work is that Sir Mark Lowcock is recommended to be appointed as the Independent Chair of the Inquiry. A report setting this out will be discussed by the Council’s Co-operative Executive at their meeting on 19 January 2021.

Independent Inquiry timeline

The key milestones in establishing the inquiry are:

19 May 2021

Following local elections the Leaders of the Labour and Green groups in Sheffield City Council signed a Co-operation Agreement. This contained a commitment to "appoint an independent person to conduct a local non-statutory inquiry into the management of the street trees dispute."

14 July 2021

Building on this commitment, we set out the initial steps towards appointing an Independent Chair for the Inquiry.

26 August 2021

Weightmans LLP are appointed as independent legal advisers for the duration of the Independent Inquiry. They will provide support and advice to council officers around recruitment of the Independent Chair and will remain in place to support the chair once appointed.

1 September 2021

We ran an online public meeting open to all stakeholders to brief them in more detail on our planned approach to the inquiry and offer an opportunity to engage, comment, or raise concerns. Watch a recording of the meeting.

9 September 2021: 

We ran an in-person public meeting as a second opportunity for stakeholders to engage, comment or raise concerns. You can find a summary of the key points raised in this meeting in the Independent Street Trees Inquiry Public Meeting – Record of Questions and Answers under Documents.

15 November 2021

Open recruitment to the position of Independent Chair of the Inquiry started. This followed an application process designed to identify an independent person, including an opportunity for key stakeholders to meet the short-listed candidates.

10 December 2021

Applications for the position of Independent Chair of the Inquiry closed.

11 January 2022

We held the Independent Chair Interview Day. This included an opportunity for the public to meet the short-listed candidates. Following this it was recommended that Sir Mark Lowcock be appointed as the Independent Chair of the Inquiry. You can read more about this on our Sheffnews page.

19 January 2022

The Council’s Co-operative Executive will discuss and decide on the recommendation to appoint Sir Mark Lowcock. You can find the report making this recommendation in Appointment of the Independent Chair of the Local Enquiry into the Street Trees Dispute under Documents.

Early 2022

Once formally appointed, Sir Mark will engage broadly on terms of reference for the Independent Inquiry, seeking to establish an approach that is acceptable to all parties.

End of March 2022

Formal launch of the Independent Inquiry. There will be a public event, at which Sir Mark will present his final terms of reference and outline the Independent Inquiry plan and timetable.