Sheffield tree protests

Almost 200 street trees saved after being re-inspected

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Almost 200 Sheffield trees which were due to be felled have been saved after being reassessed, prompting campaigners to say "we told you so".

A felled tree
PA Media

A survey of 309 street trees found 191 could be retained on a longer term basis, a new report reveals.

Sheffield Tree Action Groups said it was "great news but no surprise" that almost two-thirds of those trees could be saved.

The council said a further 26 trees require "bespoke solutions" but could be kept, one tree will be removed and replaces, and a further 91 trees are still to be investigated.

Compensation paid after wrongful arrests - Campaigners

Almost £25,000 of compensation has been awarded to seven Sheffield tree campaigners after their arrests were deemed to be unlawful, according to a campaign group.

A felled tree
PA

Member of Sheffield Tree Action Group (STAG) have protested against the recent felling of certain street trees in Sheffield.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct upheld complaints last year about the grounds on which arrests were made.

The protesters were held between November 2016 and February 2017 under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act, but all prosecutions have since been dropped.

A total of £24,300 has been paid by South Yorkshire Police to campaigners Calvin Payne, Simon Crump, Jeremy Peace, Paul Brooke, Gemma Lock, Kate Billington and Margaret Mark, according to STAG.

Thousands of trees have been felled in Sheffield since the start of a £2.2bn 25-year programme of works, having been assessed as either dangerous, dead, diseased, dying, damaging or discriminatory.

They are being replaced with saplings.

However, many of the trees classed as damaging or discriminatory are healthy specimens which should not be cut down but saved say campaigners.

They say amendments should be made to surrounding pavements and roads.

Minister: 'Tree felling costs could be spent elsewhere'

Sheffield City Council would have more money to spend on tackling pollution if it stopped cutting down trees, that's according to the government.

A felled tree
PA

BBC Radio Sheffield found that in September the council spent more than £400,000 on legal proceedings against campaigners who staged a series of protests against the tree-felling.

Sheffield council's record on reducing pollution was raised in the Commons by the Labour MP for Sheffield Central, Paul Blomfield.

Environment Minister Therese Coffey said the council could start spending money elsewhere by stopping the cutting down of trees.

The protests stem from a dispute surrounding the 25-year, £2.2bn Streets Ahead contract between Sheffield City Council and Amey has seen about 5,500 trees cut down since 2012.

The authority, that is planting new trees after removing existing ones, insists trees earmarked for felling were diseased, dying, dangerous or damaging.

Sheffield tree protesters 'acted peacefully' - Solicitor

Six Sheffield tree protesters were acting peacefully before they were arrested, a solicitor representing them has said after a police watchdog concluded the decision to arrest them was flawed.

Two men feed a tree into a chipper
PA

Calvin Payne, Jeremy Peace, Kate Billington, Margaret Mark, Paul Brookes and one other person were arrested under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act between November 2016 and February 2017.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has said it found there were "no grounds" to arrest them on the grounds of preventing harm or injury, though it did find there was "reasonable suspicion that an offence had been committed".

Iftikhar Manzoor, from Howells Solicitors, says the decision to complain to the IOPC was the right thing to do.

"My clients were lawfully exercising their rights to protest against the tree-felling programme and passionately believe they were acting peacefully at all times," says Mr Manzoor.

"They were rightly concerned about the actions of some South Yorkshire Police officers in arresting and detaining them, which the IOPC decision vindicates."