No olive branch as Sheffield tree row heads to court
The ongoing saga surrounding tree-felling in Sheffield will enter its latest chapter in Leeds today as a three-day court case with potential national ramifications for local democracy begins.
Sheffield Council is taking legal action against eight campaigners, including one of its own councillors, in a bid to prevent them from participating in future protests against the removal of trees from the city’s streets.
If the injunctions are granted, those involved would be barred from “direct action” and could be chased for damages or even face the prospect of jail should they disobey. The council claims such draconian action is a last resort after months of disruption to the felling programme, with protesters’ tactics including standing directly under trees scheduled for removal.
Thousands of trees are being removed as part of a 25-year £2bn highway maintenance programme based on a controversial PFI contract signed with contractor Amey in 2012.
While the council insist only trees that are dead, dying, diseased or dangerous are being removed and then replaced, protesters argue with equal conviction that many do not need to be chopped down and the work is being carried out as a cost-cutting exercise.
The seemingly-intractable situation has already resulted in numerous arrests, including of pensioners, with cases subsequently dropped by the CPS. The outcome of this latest court battle may well set a precedent for how councils deal with those who protest against their policies and as such, is one we should all watch with interest and concern.
Legal action against tree protesters is ‘last resort’, insists Sheffield Council
Sheffield Council has insisted it is taking campaigners to court as a ‘last resort’. Eight people will appear before a High Court judge in Leeds today faced with the prospect of being placed under injunctions brought by the authority.
The legal action is as a result of continued protests against tree felling as part of the council’s Streets Ahead contract with Amey.
The council says campaigners are protesting inside safety barriers ‘unlawfully’ and as a result holding up work – which is costing the taxpayer money. But some people are determined to stand up for their beliefs.
Sheffield tree protesters ‘simply wrong’, court told
THE actions of protesters campaigning against a tree felling programme in Sheffield were today described in court as “an affront to the rule of law.”
Sheffield City Council withdraws interim injunction application against tree protesters, pending trial
SHEFFIELD City Council has withdrawn an application for an interim injunction against tree felling protesters, subject to a full trial.
The local authority had been seeking legal action against eight people in the High Court in Leeds today. The case was halted after a trial hearing date was brought forward to Wednesday of next week (July 26).
Sheffield City Council withdraws tree protest injunction
Sheffield City Council has agreed to suspend a temporary injunction preventing tree protestors taking direct action to stop felling.
Instead, a full three day civil trial will take place at Leeds High Court from 26 to 28 July.
The decision means no further action will be taken against eight named campaigners and “unnamed people” who stop trees being cut down.
Both parties said they were “very pleased” with the outcome.