Over the past few weeks, we have been helping our local supporters to speak up for woods and trees in the Doncaster Mayoral election. Of course, as a charity we have not been supporting any particular candidate but through our website supporters have been contacting the candidates and putting questions to them about their tree-related plans, like protection for ancient woodland in Doncaster and the need to create more woods.
As a result of the campaign, 119 emails were sent to the seven candidates who provided email addresses and – despite no candidates mentioning trees or woodland in their manifesto – we have seen really positive responses about trees and woods from three of the candidates, including the eventual winner, Ros Jones from the Labour party. Ros indicated that she would be willing to meet after the elections and in her email to us she said:
” I appreciate the benefits or having quality woodlands on the doorstep and would always seek to protect and improve them wherever possible.”
We have also been promoting the benefits of woodland to Doncaster people through social networking. My @treesnick Twitter account has attracted over 250 followers and through “retweeting” some of our messages have potentially reached over 40,000 people in the Doncaster area!
Only a few towns and cities in the UK currently have directly elected Mayors. There is debate over the merits of the Mayoral system but one of the advantages (and the reason why we focused attention on Doncaster’s election) is that one individual elected by the people of the town is responsible for delivery for the full range of council services and this person has an opportunity to make positive changes for the benefit of the local community.
I look forward to sitting down and chatting with Ros in the coming weeks to discuss how we can help her achieve her aspiration for Doncaster to have quality woodlands close to people to deliver all the benefits that trees and woods are able to provide.
Nick Sandford, Regional and Local Government Officer (North East and North West England)