Sheffield pensioner arrested in tree felling protest 'wanted to make a stand'

The husband of a Sheffield pensioner arrested in a tree felling protest in Sheffield said she 'wanted to make a stand'.

Thursday, 17th November 2016, 10:05 am
Updated Friday, 18th November 2016, 11:22 am
Trees have been felled on Rustlings Road

Two women, aged 70 and 71, were arrested in a stand-off with police officers over the controversial felling of trees on Rustlings Road, Endcliffe, this morning.

Residents were woken by contractors who, with police protection, started felling a number of trees using chainsaws.

A crowd of neighbours and members of the Sheffield Tree Action Group gathered as the trees were brought down.

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Bob Hockey's 70-year-old wife Jenny, a retired university professor, is one of three people in police custody this morning.

Mr Hockey, 72, said: "The police and contractors came and knocked on doors in the middle of the night at about 4.30am and asked people to move cars.

"Then some protesters went to intervene. There is not much we can do but Jenny wanted to make a stand.

"She and another woman stood inside the ribbon around the tree. Then a young lad passing by jumped in and joined them.

"I don't blame the police. They are just doing their job.

"We have been protesting because the council is cutting down healthy trees and ignoring the advice of a panel they set up to advise them."

Sheffield Hallam Liberal Democrat MP, Nick Clegg, voiced his support for the campaigners, who are objecting to tree felling as part of a city-wide road improvement programme.

In a tweet today he said 'shocked' to learn of the early morning tree felling operation and described Sheffield Council's actions as 'unjustifiable, underhand and a waste of precious police resources'.

Twelve police officers were in Rustlings Road when tree fellers arrived and started cutting the trees down.

Sheffield Tree Action Group member Chris Rust described the early morning operation as 'very sneaky'.

Lib Dem councillor Joe Otten said: "They are magnificent trees that improve our quality of life. Yes, there are a few cracks in the pavement and some of the trees will have to go as part of the upgrade package.

"They have the budget and programme and they are just going ahead with it. It's pig- headed.

"It is not necessary. They are just being stubborn about the way they go about it."