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Jarvis Cocker and Richard Hawley to judge Sheffield tree competition

By | Published on Monday 23 January 2017

Jarvis Cocker

Jarvis Cocker, Richard Hawley and former Pulp drummer Nick Barnes are among the judges in a new competition to find Sheffield’s greatest tree, as part of a campaign to save the city’s roadside trees from being cut down.

Launched by Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg last week, the Great Trees Of Sheffield 2017 competition aims to raise awareness of local authority plans to remove trees from Sheffield’s roadsides. The plan to fell many of the city’s trees follows a 2012 road maintenance deal between the local council and private company Amey, which includes overseeing the city’s 36,000 roadside trees. The council has repeatedly refused to release an unredacted copy of the contract, and it recently emerged that council leader Julie Dore has not seen it either, despite defending its contents.

A council spokesperson last week said that the full contract, which has a 25 year term, runs to more than 7000 pages, and that council leaders had been fully briefed on its contents. Details redacted from the publicly available document are of a commercially sensitive nature.

The row came to wider attention in November, after eight trees were cut down early one morning, with residents of the street called out of bed to move their cars and protesters detained by police. Writing in local paper The Star, Clegg described it as “scenes you’d expect to see in Putin’s Russia, rather than a Sheffield suburb”.

Commenting on the battle to save the trees, Hawley said that Sheffield taxpayers are being “hauled over a barrel” with regard to the deal, reports The Guardian. “It’s like something is beyond the ‘Wizard Of Oz’ curtain that only a few people know about”, he said. “Not even the elected councillors know about it. The man on the street, or the man in the pub doesn’t know about it. It seems as bent and wonky as a tree to me”.

Nominations for Sheffield’s Greatest Tree are open until 1 May. Jarvis Cocker has nominated a weeping birch in Endcliffe Park that “looks like bad hair”. Find out more about the campaign here.