Council admits 'we got it wrong' after dawn raid on Sheffield trees

Residents were woken at 5am by workmen, who were accompanied by a large number of police officers.
Residents were woken at 5am by workmen, who were accompanied by a large number of police officers.
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Sheffield Council has admitted 'we got it wrong' after axing trees in a police-backed dawn raid last week.

The authority has today issued an apology to residents on Rustlings Road, Endcliffe, following a shambolic tree felling incident last week.

Pensioners Jenny Hockey and Freda Brayshaw were both arrested

Pensioners Jenny Hockey and Freda Brayshaw were both arrested

Around 5am last Thursday, residents on the road were woken at about 5am by workers from council's contractors Amey, who were accompanied by a large number of police officers.

Residents, who claim they were not made aware of the felling plans, staged a peaceful protest and three arrests were made.

Pensioners Jenny Hockey and Freda Brayshaw were both arrested - sparking international headlines.

Following the incident, Coun Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for environment at the council, said: "We know we got it wrong last week with the way the work was started. We have listened and are sorry for the mistakes that we made.”

One of the felled trees, still with a 'save me' banner attached.

One of the felled trees, still with a 'save me' banner attached.

He added: "We would like to offer an apology to the people of Sheffield who were affected by the way in which we took the trees down on Thursday of last week, and particularly those living on Rustlings Road, who will also receive an apology in the post.

"We are sorry for the disruption and distress caused by the work starting at 5am and the decision not to publish the Tree Panel report in advance.

“There were reasons relating to public safety why the decision was taken to fell the trees at 5am and not to publish the report earlier, but we have heard the message loud and clear that this was not the acceptable course of action. We have reflected on this and will not do work in the same way. To be specific, we commit to publishing the Independent Tree Panel reports in a timely manner, with full and transparent information about how we have come to decisions. We can also give assurances that no work will begin before 7am.

“As we continue to carry out work as part of the largest investment there has ever been in the city’s street trees, and to protect the city’s 36,000 street trees for generations to come, it is important that we take necessary measures to ensure that we protect the safety of our workforce, and the public."

Floral tributes have sprung up in memory of the trees.

Floral tributes have sprung up in memory of the trees.