Anniversary march to mark four years since controversial dawn tree felling on Rustlings Road

Residents marched down Rustlings Road today in memory of trees cut down four years ago on one of the most controversial days in Sheffield’s history.

Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 4:04 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 4:51 pm

The campaigners also walked in tribute to the late Alan Robshaw, a retired architect who was an expert in highway design, and complained to the Local Government Ombudsman about the circumstances surrounding the dawn felling of eight trees on the street on November 17, 2016.

The incident made headlines not only here in Sheffield but across the national press.

Despite being around 5am in the morning, Sheffielders stood by their trees and pleaded for contractors to stop.

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Helen McIlroy, Dave Dillner and Dr Deepa Shetty, pictured taking part in a Memory Walk along Rustlings Road.

Three people were arrested after confrontation with workers and released without charge.

People spoke of their outrage and at the time MP Nick Clegg said the council acted as if they were running an anti-terrorist operation, adding: “I do not know what planet these people are on. Arresting elderly residents? Arresting them when they are just trying to say ‘don’t chop this tree down’?”

Councillor Bryan Lodge, then cabinet member for street scene, admitted the presence of 12 police officers at the felling was at the request of the council and the decision to undertake the felling at dawn was on the advice of South Yorkshire Police.

For many it was the moment they decided to join the growing campaign to save thousands of other trees around the city from the same fate.

The issue came when Sheffield Council agreed a £2 billion scheme with contractors Amey to improve the streets, getting rid of what they called diseased, dying, dead, damaging or dangerous trees in the process.

Between 2012 and 2018 a total of more than 5,400 trees were felled. An investigation by the Forestry Commission showed 600 of these may have been illegal.

But still people wait for a public inquiry, which council leader Julie Dore has resisted.