Independent Inquiry into the Street Trees Dispute

Following the signing of the Co-operative Agreement between Labour and Green Groups in 2021, we established an independent inquiry into the management of the street trees dispute.

The work of the independent inquiry concluded with the publishing of a report on 6 March 2023.

Upon publication of the report, the Independent Chair of the Inquiry gave a statement. It is available to watch online, or as a transcript.

The purpose of this Inquiry was set out in the Independent Chair's Terms of Reference.

Evidence submitted to the Inquiry

After the publication of the final report, the Inquiry team began the process of winding down the Inquiry. 

As set out in the final report: “The Inquiry will transfer non-confidential evidence on which it has drawn to the Council after publication of this report and the Council will then determine what is subsequently made public. This may become part of the Council’s existing Street Tree Archive.”
 
The Inquiry team will contact some people who submitted evidence to ask if specific pieces of evidence can be transferred to the Council. Everything else sent to the Inquiry will be deleted in the process of closing the Inquiry. No evidence shared with the Inquiry on a confidential basis will be transferred to the council. 
 
If you submitted evidence that you feel should be included in the archive, but you don’t hear from the Inquiry team, please see the Sheffield Tree Archive page for more information about how things can be submitted to the archive.

The Independent Chair of the Inquiry 

Following completion of a robust national recruitment process, Sir Mark Lowcock was formally appointed as the Independent Chair of the Inquiry.

Sir Mark joined the Inquiry as a highly regarded public servant with 35 years experience in public policy and international affairs. Until 2021, Sir Mark Lowcock held the position of United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. His previous work also saw him negotiate on international treaties and agreements covering climate change, biodiversity and forests as well as supervising UK aid programmes to protect and sustainably manage tropical forests and other environmental assets.

Sir Mark’s previous roles also include Permanent Secretary for the Department for International Development (DFID) and Head of Environment Policy at the Overseas Development Administration, the predecessor to the Department for International Development. 

Public Hearings

From September 2022, Sir Mark held public hearings. They were broadcast live online and recordings are available to watch.

The public hearings supported the ongoing recovery in Sheffield from the street trees dispute, by providing an opportunity for those affected by the dispute to understand what happened, why actions were taken and to hear the story of the dispute from each other’s perspectives.

Each hearing took the form of a conversation between the Independent Inquiry Chair and a person relevant to the dispute who had been invited to attend. They discussed key elements of the dispute, and the Chair posed questions.

Public hearings were broadcast on the following dates:

As these hearings have now passed, they are currently only available by browsing our online archive or by getting in touch with archives@sheffield.gov.uk and quoting the reference: X974/4.

8 December 2022

  • 9:00am - Andy Milner, Chief Executive Officer, Amey, 2015-2019
  • 10:30am - Nathan Edwards, Chair, Sheffield Street Tree Partnership
  • 11:30am - Cllr Terry Fox, Leader, Sheffield City Council
  • 1:30pm - Cllr Joe Otten, Chair of the Waste and Street Scene Policy Committee, Sheffield City Council
  • 3:00pm - Kate Josephs, Chief Executive Officer, Sheffield City Council

29 November 2022

  • 9:30am - James Henderson, Director of Policy, Performance and Communications, Sheffield City Council
  • 11:00am - Peter Anderson, Managing Director Transport Infrastructure, Amey
  • 1:30pm - Darren Butt, (formerly) Account Director, Amey

27 October 2022

  • 10:00am – John Mothersole, (formerly) Chief Executive Officer, Sheffield City Council

26 October 2022

  • 11:30am – Paul Brooke
  • 3:00pm – Cllr Bryan Lodge, Co-Chair Finance Sub-Committee, Sheffield City Council

25 October 2022

  • 1:00pm – Ann Anderson

5 October 2022

  • 10:00am - Chris Rust
  • 2:00pm - Andy Buck, (formerly) Chair of the Independent Tree Panel
  • 3:30pm - Lewis Dagnall, (formerly) Councillor for Gleadless Valley ward and Cabinet Member for Environment, Street Scene and Climate Change, Sheffield City Council

4 October 2022

  • 10:00am - David Dillner
  • 11:30am - Paul Selby

29 September 2022

  • 2:00pm - Rebecca Hammond

28 September 2022

  • 10:00am - Dr Alan Billings,  Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire
  • 11:30am - Andrew Lockley,  (formerly) Chair of the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s Advisory Panel on Policing Protests

27 September 2022

  • 9:30am - Alison Teal
  • 11:30am - Professor Ian Rotherham
  • 2:00pm - Christine King, Sheffield Tree Action Groups

22 September 2022

  • 10:00am - Councillor Julie Grocutt, Deputy Leader, Sheffield City Council
  • 11:30am - Eugene Walker, Executive Director of Resources, Sheffield City Council
  • 2:00pm - Councillor Douglas Johnson, Chair of the Housing Policy Committee, Sheffield City Council

9-10 March 2022

Sir Mark published the final Terms of Reference for the Inquiry.

January to March 2022

Sir Mark engaged broadly to develop the terms of reference for the Independent Inquiry, seeking to establish an approach that is acceptable to all parties. Recruitment to the team supporting the Inquiry also began.

19 January 2022

The Council’s Co-operative Executive approved a 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.

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.

10 December 2021

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

14 July 2021

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

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."

Independent Inquiry timeline

The key milestones in establishing the Inquiry were:

6 March 2023

Sir Mark Lowcock broadcast a live statement about the findings of the Inquiry and published a final report, concluding the work of the Inquiry.

28 February 2023

22 February 2023

Sir Mark issues a statement:

‘Further to the announcement made by the Independent Chair on 14 February 2023, he has now approved the Inquiry’s report. The text is currently being formatted for publication.

The Inquiry intends to publish the report on Sheffield City Council’s website shortly after 10am on 6 March. The Independent Chair will make a livestreamed public statement at that time. Details of how to watch that will be announced shortly.

The Independent Chair expects to have a number of preparatory meetings on 2 and 3 March, and the Inquiry will be in touch with those concerned. Those meetings will not involve the provision of advanced or embargoed copies of the report or extracts from it: the full report will, as stated in the Inquiry’s terms of reference, be made available at the same time to everyone.'

14 February 2023

Sir Mark issued a statement: 

'The Inquiry is currently finalising its report. I am expecting to publish the report in early March. We will make a further announcement with more detail in due course.'

31 January 2023

15 December 2022

31 December 2022

30 November 2022

31 October 2022

30 September 2022

22 September 2022

Inquiry public hearings commenced.

31 August 2022

31 July 2022

30 June 2022

31 May 2022

30 April 2022

1 April 2022

Inquiry commenced.

31 March 2022
 

Contact the Archives and Local Studies Library

0114 203 9395 (Sat, Mon, Tues)
0114 273 4753 (Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat)
First Floor, Central Library
Surrey Street
Sheffield
S1 1XZ

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