Protesters trying to halt a “politically controversial” street tree-felling programme in Sheffield say they are considering their next move after losing a High Court fight with council bosses.
They said Sheffield City Council had spent more than £400,000 of taxpayers’ money opposing a street tree campaign but had not engaged in “constructive discussion”.
Sheffield Green Party members said they were dismayed.
âIn this, the case of Sheffield City Council vs The People, it is democracy + residents of Sheffield who have lost" https://t.co/5XQ2tUWj68— Sheffield Greens (@SheffieldGreens) August 15, 2017
One party member estimated £100,000 of public money had been spent on legal action.
A judge has made orders stopping people taking “unlawful direct action” preventing the “lawful” felling of roadside trees.
Mr Justice Males analysed evidence at a trial in Leeds in July and handed down a ruling in London on Tuesday.
A spokesman for Sheffield Tree Action Groups (Stag), which has been at the centre of opposition, said members were determined to do all they could to save remaining healthy trees which had been condemned.
Tree fight 'will continue' despite injunction ruling, say Sheffield campaigners https://t.co/zacnPaAPN6— StagNews (@StagNews2017) August 15, 2017
PRESS RELEASE— StagNews (@StagNews2017) August 15, 2017
SHEFFIELD TREE ACTION GROUPS
15 August 2017
Sheffield City Council have bought a very expensive... https://t.co/6rUDvBt3Pw
He said: “Mr Justice Males has ruled in favour of Sheffield City Council’s attempt to impose trespass laws on tree protests. Defendants are taking advice on their next steps.
“The city council have now spent over £400,000 of public money… to oppose the street tree campaign, but, as was stated in court, they have never once engaged in a constructive discussion with Stag.”
He added: “Stag and its member groups now have more supporters than ever and we are determined to do everything we can to save the remaining healthy trees.”
A Sheffield Green Party spokesman said: “Sheffield Greens are very disappointed that today the High Court ruled in favour of granting an injunction aimed at preventing peaceful protesting against the council’s tree felling programme.”
Sheffield council had asked for orders barring three named people, including one of its own Green Party councillors, and “persons unknown” from “continuing to take unlawful direct action” or from encouraging others to direct action.
The three named people were: councillor Alison Teal, David Dillner and Calvin Payne.
Mr Justice Males said the council was entitled to the injunctions sought.
Ms Teal vowed to continue opposing the council’s plans and “expressed dismay at the council’s heavy handed and unnecessarily aggressive tactics”.
“I am very disappointed with this outcome, but will continue to do all that I can to save Sheffield trees,” she said. “Sheffield Greens will not stop standing up for residents and communities who do not want this disastrous and unpopular tree felling programme to go on.
“I would like to thank my legal team for their excellent work, and for all the messages of support I have received.
“In the short term, we will of course be looking into possible avenues of appeal against this decision. It never had to come to this.
“The council say that this action was a ‘last resort’, but in truth they have wasted time and taxpayers’ money on this needless, aggressive action when all they had to do was acknowledge residents’ concerns and to mediate with us.
“In this, the case of Sheffield City Council vs The People, it is democracy and the residents of Sheffield who have lost. This decision by the High Court is very worrying, as the right to peaceful protest has been fundamentally threatened.
“The council’s disastrous and unpopular tree felling programme continues to be a story of national and international embarrassment for our city.”