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    Sheffield Council refuses to answer ‘vexatious’ tree questions

    Sheffield Council is refusing to answer future questions from residents about highway trees because they are considered ‘vexatious’ .

    Concerned residents have submitted Freedom of Information requests to the council as controversy over tree felling in the Streets Ahead project grows.

    Such requests are a formal way of asking for recorded information, and the council is obliged to respond.

    But several people have been told their questions will go unanswered.

    In a response the council also says that because of the number and ‘impact’ of requests about highway trees future requests will be considered to be ‘vexatious and ‘manifestly unreasonable.’

    In the Freedom of Information Act 2000 it says authorities can refuse requests if they are vexatious – defined as causing annoyance, frustration, or worry.

    But tree campaigner Deepa Shetty said the ‘disturbing’ response showed the council was ‘unwilling to communicate’ with the public over trees. For many people who have submitted FoI requests on trees, it was their first ever.

    The Star has also submitted one request for information on highway trees under the act this year. In its response to residents the council said its decision to refuse requests was in line with Information Commissioner guidance.

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