Sheffield tree-felling arrests: council claims protests are costing taxpayers 'significant amount of money'

Councillor Alison Teal (left) and the other protesters who were arrested for trying to prevent the tree being cut down
Councillor Alison Teal (left) and the other protesters who were arrested for trying to prevent the tree being cut down
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Sheffield Council has criticised tree-felling protesters for costing taxpayers money, after seven people were arrested today including a Green Party councillor.

Councillor Alison Teal and six other demonstrators were arrested during a peaceful protest this morning for trying to prevent a tree being cut down in Chippinghouse Road, Nether Edge.

A councillor has been arrested at a tree felling protest in Sheffield

A councillor has been arrested at a tree felling protest in Sheffield

They were all arrested under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act - the same piece of legislation used against two protesters arrested last year, who are due to face trial at Sheffield Magistrates' Court on March 9.

Councillor Bryan Lodge, cabinet member for the environment, said this afternoon that the demonstrators had been arrested because they refused to leave the safety cordon, thus posing a danger to themselves and workers from council contractor Amey.

"The council is very disappointed that this disruption of lawful highway work is continuing. We have had the programme endorsed by the courts following legal action by the protest group but the disruption continues to cause unnecessary delay. This delay and disruption is likely to cost the council taxpayers of Sheffield a significant amount of money," he added.

"Whilst we appreciate that some people have strong views about the city's trees, we must continue with works under the Streets Ahead contract whilst ensuring the safety of site operatives and the general public remain paramount at all times. In addition, the majority of residents on Chippinghouse Road did not disagree with our proposals for tree works on their road.

A councillor has been arrested at a tree felling protest in Sheffield

A councillor has been arrested at a tree felling protest in Sheffield

"We want to reassure the people of Sheffield that every tree being removed as part of the Streets Ahead programme will be replaced on a one for one basis and ultimately, by the end of the contract, there will be more street trees in Sheffield than before the contract commenced in 2012."

South Yorkshire Police said it was called to the street at 9.30am by the council and had arrested seven people on suspicion of preventing lawful work.

Alison Teal was elected in 2014 as a councillor for the Nether Edge and Sharrow ward, edging out Labour's third candidate by eight votes.

Former Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, who intends to stand in the Sheffield Central constituency at the next general election, defended the actions of her party colleague.

She tweeted: "Solidarity to @alisonclareteal and the other ChippinghouseSeven - arrested for peacefully trying to protect their community #SaveSheffTrees"

Coun Teal is the partner of Simon Crump, one of two men arrested and later charged over a tree-felling protest in Marden Road, Nether Edge, last year.

Two pensioners were due to appear in court last month over a protest against the pre-dawn felling of trees in Rustlings Road, Endcliffe, but the charges against them were dropped.

The council has since apologised for how it went about removing the trees that morning.

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