Blog Archives

Mediated Talks With The Council

It is now 7 months since a health street tree has been felled in Sheffield. Over the subsequent months the campaign has been engaged with Sheffield council, hoping to find an amicable solution to the mess our city has found itself in with regard to it’s street trees.

Eventually the council agreed to enter into mediated talks with representatives from the campaign. But with only three days of talks having been scheduled. Many people have assumed that an an agreement has to reached by the end of the third day, and are worried about what that might mean for the campaign.

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Sheffield People’s Petition

Many of us have been outraged by Sheffield Council’s plans for the city’s street trees, and appalled by it’s handling of the resultant protests.

The council currently operates using a ‘Strong Leader Model’. This means that many important decisions are made behind close doors, by just the council leader and the nine members of the cabinet, with the remaining councillors have no input. This effectively means that it is highly likely that your elected representative, and by extension you, have no voice on many important issues, including those affecting our environment.

Today the ‘It’s Our City’ campaign group have launched the ‘Sheffield Peoples Petition’. If just 5% of Sheffield residents sign, it will trigger a referendum on how our city council is run, and possibly force the council to adopt a more democratic governance model. One based on greater accountability and transparency.

“We, the undersigned, being local government electors for the area of Sheffield City Council, to whom this petition is addressed, seek a referendum on whether the council should be run in a different way by one or more committees made up of elected councillors.” – It’s Our City

I urge all Sheffield residents to sign the petition. This is an great opportunity to change and influence the way our city is run, in a way that goes way beyond the issue of street trees.

Please visit the petition at https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/sheffield-peoples-petition.

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The New Injunction – What You Need To Know

The currently injunction against the prevention of tree fellings by direct peaceful protest, was due to expire in 25th July 2018.

Sheffield Council applied to revise and extend the injunction for a further 3 years.

Thirteen tree campaigners were sent letters informing them of the new injunction, and implying further legal action would be taken against them unless they signed a document saying that they agreed to abide by the new terms. None of them signed. At the injunction hearing on Thursday 12th July, Judge Robinson stated that the thirteen “were eminently justified in not signing”. 

For a more in depth report on the injunction hearing see here.

Ultimately, the council failed to bully campaigners, and were only granted an extra 18 months, rather than the 3 years they had requested. However the injunction was amended in one crucial way. Protesting by standing beside a wall or fence (Geckoing), is now Prohibited.

For a full description of what protesters can and cannot legally do under the terms of the new injunction, see Paul Brooke’s summary here.

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Court Case Summary and Comments

Last week Sheffield Council brought another case against four campaigners, who they allege had breached the injunction.

Though the outcome of the case is still not fully confirmed, here is a brief summary of significant information to come out of the court case, and what it may mean for the future of the campaign. 

The barrister acting on behalf of Sheffield Council confirmed that Counselor Julie Dore had signed off on the court case, despite Counselor Lewis Dagnall saying publicly that the decision was solely the decision of officials, and that Councillors had no say in whether the cases were brought to court.

It appears that specific type of tactics campaigners have used to delay felling remain outside the terms of the injunction and able to continue to be used.

Two of the four accused were given suspended custodial sentences, the third was found guilty but with no sentence, and the the judge is still considering his decision on the fourth person.

The question of how much of the Council’s application for costs should be awarded against campaigners is still to be decided .

Over £4,800 has so far been raised via a crowdfunder setup to help cover court costs.
Clearly the outcome of the case isn’t good for the three individuals found guilty of breaching an injunction, and potentially significant costs may yet be awarded. But on the bright side, all three have avoided being imprisoned. 

Though many fear that felling will commence immediately, it is likely that the pause in felling will continue for many more weeks yet. Word has it that Amey is still finalising its detailed proposal to save more trees. Which once submitted, will still need to go through Council Officers, the Labour Cabinet and the wider Labour Party, before hopefully being proposed to the campaign as a solution.

In the meantime, please continue to support the campaign in any way you can. Donate to the crowdfunder, or attend a supporters meeting. 

It is hoped that Counselor Lewis Dagnall, the new Cabinet Member for Environment, will be at the next Save Nether Edge Trees supporters meeting, though this is yet to be confirmed.

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Posted in Crowdfunding, News

New Injunction Court Cases

Sadly, Sheffield Council are once again bringing court cases against tree campaigners who it claims have breached the terms of the injunction. Individual campaigners may face heavy court costs, should the council be successful.

Once again there is a crowdfunder to help cover legal costs.

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/sheffield-street-trees-legal-fund-2018-3
Please give generously.

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The Greens Win In Nether Edge!

Congratulations to Alison Teal, the Nether Edge Green Councillor and prominent tree campaigner, for retaining her seat and increasing her majority by 1393 votes.

“Labour Councillors have previously claimed they have the democratic mandate for their disastrous plan to fell 17,500 trees. They cannot claim this after today.“
Paul Brooke – Co-Chair STAG Steering Group

The Labour run council also lost a total of four seats to other parties:

Broomhill and Sharrow Vale (Green Party)
City (Green Party)
Crookes and Crosspool (Liberal Democrats)
West Ecclesfield (Liberal Democrats)
See here for all results as they are announced.

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City Hall Rally – Saturday 7th April

A rally is to be held outside Sheffield City Hall next Saturday (7th April). The event, organised by Dave Dillner founder of STAG, will commence with a march around town before finishing back at the City Hall for speeches.

Speakers will include experts in arboricultural, environmental and ecological matters, as well as people from the world of entertainment, including Sheffield’s very own Jarvis Cocker.

Event:       Get Off My Tree
Date:         Saturday 7th April
Time:        9.45am
Location: Sheffield City Hall (Outside)

With the council announcing a pause in felling, and the elections coming up (coincidence?), this is a great opportunity to show the council that you oppose the felling of our healthy street trees. In addition, let’s show the world that despite the violence and intimidatory tactics being used against protesters, we remain a peaceful campaign.

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