Sheffield tree workers ‘racially abused’, claims councillor

Coun Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for environment
Coun Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for environment
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Workers felling trees in Sheffield have been subjected to racist abuse and ‘goading’ by protesters, a councillor has claimed.

Councillor Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for environment, made the comments at a full council meeting at Sheffield Town Hall on Tuesday.

He was said while the majority of tree protesters were ‘dignified and respectful’, he had been made aware of a number of concerning incidents.

He made the comments after a member of the public asked what evidence there had been for Councillor Neale Gibson to make claims that protesters had been involved in ‘violence, swearing, abuse and racism’ towards Amey and Sheffield Council workers involved in the tree replacement programme.

The man said there should be an apology if there was no evidence to back up the comments.

Coun Lodge said: “I’m aware the vast majority of protesters behave in a law-abiding, dignified and respectful manner.

“But some operatives were subject to goading and abuse.

“Some operatives reported racial comments to their employer but decided not to take it any further. That is their decision to do that.

“Some operatives have raised these issues with their trade union.

“I’m aware of an employee of Sheffield City Council who felt so strongly about things said to him he did put it in writing.

“The vast majority of people protesting behave in a law-abiding and respectable manner. But there are always risks of the odd people who decide to do things for themselves.”

Trees are being cut down across Sheffield as part of the Streets Ahead project with contractor Amey.

The council has said it is removing trees that are dangerous, diseased, dead or dying or causing damage or obstruction to pavements and replacing them with new ones.

But campaigners claim many of the tree removals are unnecessary.