Protesters end bid to prevent tree felling

PROTESTERS who twice halted work to chop down hundreds of trees on Doncaster Common last night said they had given up the fight after police threatened to arrest them for obstruction.

Members of campaign group the Friends of Doncaster Common stopped workers with chainsaws from felling trees on Monday and had staged a similar successful operation last March.

But John Anderson, who has been involved with the fight from the beginning, said yesterday that the prospect of spending time in a cell while work continued had led the group to end their protest.

Doncaster Mayor Peter Davies initially ordered the trees be chopped down at the end of 2009, claiming they obscured a view of part of the town's racecourse from its grandstand.

The racecourse runs around the perimeter of the common, which is also used by members of the Town Moor Golf Club, and Mr Davies' plan immediately attracted opposition and protest.

Amid growing anger, the Forestry Commission was called in to investigate previous felling on the site and the work was halted while an environmental assessment was carried out.

Mr Anderson said: "We are obviously disappointed, but we could not see the sense in being taken to the police station and knowing that the work would continue anyway.

"Obviously we are still angry with the way that this has been carried out, but we feel now that the mayor has not got everything he wanted, which was essentially a slash and burn approach.

"Since we became involved, the Forestry Commission and Natural England have been asked to oversee the plans for felling and we believe that there will be some regeneration."

When council workers attempted to move in last March, pensioner Kath Lightfoot staged a sit-in meaning that the local authority was forced to postpone its work.

Mayor Davies has repeatedly refused to comment about the cost of the project, or explain why he made it a priority for spending at a time of cuts, and he claimed on Monday to have the support of many people in the town.