Sheffield protesters to hold summertime 'Christmas lights vigil' in bid to stop trees from being felled

Tree protesters are set to hold a 'Christmas light vigil' tomorrow in a bid to save Sheffield trees they say have been famed for their 'light show' for three decades, that now face the axe as part of a council programme to remove and replace thousands of trees across the city. Picture: Isobel O'Leary
Tree protesters are set to hold a 'Christmas light vigil' tomorrow in a bid to save Sheffield trees they say have been famed for their 'light show' for three decades, that now face the axe as part of a council programme to remove and replace thousands of trees across the city. Picture: Isobel O'Leary
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Tree protesters are set to hold a 'Christmas light vigil' tomorrow in a bid to save Sheffield trees they say have been famed for their 'light show' for three decades, that now face the axe as part of a council programme to remove and replace thousands of trees across the city.

Members and supporters of Sheffield Tree Action Groups, or STAG, will hold the night-time vigil for trees in Abbeydale Park Rise, Dore from 9pm tomorrow.

Tree protesters are set to hold a 'Christmas light vigil' tomorrow in a bid to save Sheffield trees they say have been famed for their 'light show' for three decades, that now face the axe as part of a council programme to remove and replace thousands of trees across the city. Picture: Brett Flower.

Tree protesters are set to hold a 'Christmas light vigil' tomorrow in a bid to save Sheffield trees they say have been famed for their 'light show' for three decades, that now face the axe as part of a council programme to remove and replace thousands of trees across the city. Picture: Brett Flower.

The group claim the trees were originally bought by residents, and that many people across the city would miss their springtime blossom and the Christmas 'light show' they provide should they be felled.

A spokesman for STAG said: Two now elderly women, who still live on Abbeydale Park Rise, coordinated and collected the monies and liaised with the Council on the planting of the trees.

"They both have trees outside their houses which are listed for removal."

STAG say they believe the trees could be chopped down imminently, and hope tomorrow evening's vigil and subsequent protests will prevent the council from felling them.

The STAG spokesman added: "The road, justly also famous for its blossom in Spring, is perhaps to be the setting of a determined defence when the felling crews with their chainsaws and chipping machines arrive.

"On Sunday, August 6 at 9pm they will hold a vigil under their lights, lit up unseasonably, but defiantly, in Summer."

Campaigners claim healthy trees are being unnecessarily destroyed but the council says the work is required to remove diseased, damaged or dangerous trees.

Six thousand of Sheffield’s 36,000 street trees should have been replaced by the end of the year, with 600 more trees being planted before the end of the programme, according to the council.

Sheffield Council is taking legal action over continued protests against the chopping down of thousands of trees in the city as part of a £2billion roads and streets improvement programme.

Last week High Court judge, Mr Justice Males, adjourned a decision on whether he will grant injunctions against tree felling protesters for two weeks, following a three-day court battle at Leeds Crown Court.

Mr Justice Males indicated that if he was minded to grant injunctions against protesters, it was likely he would not impose them immediately to allow campaigners to appeal. The council is seeking permanent injunctions against the defendants and ‘persons unknown’. Protesters object to widespread tree felling which is being carried out as part of the council’s Streets Ahead contract with Amey.

Sheffield City Council say campaigners are protesting inside safety barriers ‘unlawfully’ and as a result holding up work - which is costing the taxpayer money. If the campaigners are served with injunctions and break them they will be in contempt of court, and could face fines or even prison.

The defendants’ claim the council had felled trees as it was the most profitable option under the contract and they had failed to explore other alternatives to chopping them down.

They also say the case is not just about the council’s decision to pull down thousands of healthy trees but the burden the local authority had been placed under by entering into a PFI contract with Amey.

The three defendants are Alison Teal, Green Party councillor for Nether Edge and Sharrow, Calvin Payne, a former civil servant, and retired actor Dave Dillner.

The council had initially sought injunctions against eight people.

The five other defendants have now signed undertakings and chose not to contest the matter in court because of the costs involved in the legal battle, which could be around £100,000.

Read more at: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/campaigners-and-sheffield-city-council-chiefs-face-wait-for-ruling-on-tree-protest-injuctions-1-8674997

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