The revelation that police attending tree-felling protests in Sheffield ran up a £47,000 overtime bill in less than a month has sparked a debate online.
Superintendent Paul McCurry and Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, of South Yorkshire Police, said the figure covered additional resources to cover protests from February 26 to March 23 this year, when the council’s controversial street tree replacement programme with contractor Amey was temporarily suspended. Twenty trees were felled in the four-week period.
Writing on The Star’s Facebook page, Amanda Whiteley said: “Maybe they should stop cutting the trees down then, to save money for the police and the council – money that can be spent elsewhere while keeping our city beautiful.”
Lynn Bagshaw suggested funds should be diverted towards other priorities.
“If they spent as much cracking down on shootings, knife crimes and drug dealing this city would be a safer place,” she commented.
Clare Bathija partly agreed, saying: “The police most certainly should not be wasting resources on this. However, maybe Sheffield Council need to stop cutting down trees. Problem solved.”
Loraine Ellis wrote: “So we are paying for this in our council tax, what a joke, money should be spent catching criminals.”
Neil Robinson had a different view, posting: “Tree protesters cost the taxpayer £47,000, you mean.”
Sheena Hobson said: “I’m sick of hearing about these trees, we need to spend the money on chasing villains.”
Ryan Cockayne commented: “They are trees, what is wrong with people. Get to work instead.”
And Mike Evans wrote: “Next time the council asks the police to attend they should just say no.”
The figure equates to almost two full-time police officers.
Dep Chf Con Roberts told a meeting: “We’d sooner not have this charge but it’s not something we can seek to wriggle out of.”