Jarvis Cocker and Richard Hawley lead campaign to save Sheffield’s trees

Pair get political in their hometown

Jarvis Cocker and former Pulp bandmate Richard Hawley are campaigning to save Sheffield’s trees.

The pair are fronting a competition to find the city’s greatest tree, as part of a campaign to save hundreds of roadside trees from being felled by council contractors.

A row came to the fore last November when council contractors summoned people out of bed to move their cars and police detained protesters – including a 70-year-old emeritus professor and a 71-year-old retired teacher – as eight trees were chopped down in former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg’s constituency of Hallam.

The fight for Sheffield’s trees has its roots in a £2bn private finance initiative (PFI) deal signed by the Labour-run council in 2012. The contractor Amey is tasked with maintaining the city’s 36,000 roadside trees as part of a road maintenance agreement.

The council has repeatedly refused demands from residents to disclose an unredacted version of its contract with Amey, reports The Guardian.

Hawley, who still lives in Sheffield, said the city council had “dropped a colossal bollock” with its handling of the tree-felling scheme.

“It boils down to something really simple, do you like breathing? It’s quite good. It’s called being alive. What we exhale they inhale and what we inhale they exhale. The end,” he said.

Hawley said taxpayers were being “hauled over a barrel” and urged the council to disclose the full terms of the PFI deal. “It’s like something is beyond the Wizard of Oz curtain that only a few people know about – 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.”

Meanwhile, Cocker recently revealed details of a new “multi-media musical entertainment” he has devised with musician Chilly Gonzales.

‘Room 29: Jarvis Cocker & Chilly Gonzales’ will run at London’s Barbican Theatre from March 23-25, 2017 and is described as “a song-cycle concerning the goings-on in Room 29 of the Château Marmont hotel in Hollywood” featuring “the music of Chilly Gonzales and the words of Jarvis Cocker – along with clips from classic Hollywood movies, live dance and audience participation”.