Standoff on 'street of lights' as Sheffield tree felling work continues
Clashes between council staff and tree protesters ended in a tense standoff today as the controversial felling programme continued.
The campaigners were fighting to save trees on Abbeydale Park Rise in Dore, which every year are decorated with Christmas lights in a community event which attracts thousands of visitors over the festive season and raises money for charity.
The road was the latest flashpoint in the long-running battle between private sector contractor Amey and those who oppose its felling programme.
Thirty police officers, as well as Amey staff, security guards and protesters spent hours on the road on Monday, but by mid-afternoon protesters claimed ‘almost nothing’ had been done.
Protester Martin Pickles, said: “They attempted to fell further down the road which was unsuccessful.
“There have been 62 people here doing nothing. They took some branches off one down there but they still haven’t cut any trees down.”
Martin said that contrary to claims made by Amey, the protesters’ aims were both realistic and sensible.
“Trees are being felled that do not need to be,” he said.
“The council and Amey refuse to look at the engineering solutions that are included in the contract because it is cheaper to cut the tree down than look after it for 20 years.
“We have no problem with diseased or dangerous trees coming down.”
Private contractor Amey is carrying out the work as part of Sheffield Council’s ‘Streets Ahead’ programme, a city wide road improvement programme.
It claims the trees earmarked for felling have been classed as dead, diseased or causing damage or obstruction – something the protesters dispute.
Darren Butt, account director for Streets Ahead, said: “Our work replacing street trees is essential, and so is the need to keep our staff and members of the public safe and within the law.
“Sadly, we need the help of specially trained stewards to keep our work area safe as, despite our best efforts to carry out the council’s duty to maintain the city’s highways, and a High Court injunction, a small minority of people continue to deliberately obstruct our lawful work.”
South Yorkshire Police said one person had been arrested and numerous people had received summons.