Sheffield Council contractor Amey said it was left with ‘no option’ but to bring in ‘a professional stewarding company’ to deal with protesters attempting to halt felling work by entering cordons put in place around trees due to be brought down.
Amey claims the trees it has earmarked for felling are dead, diseased or damaging or obstructing pavements, but objectors disagree and have mounted a campaign to save them.
Following a series of stand-offs between both sides at tree-felling sites, a High Court judge granted Sheffield City Council an injunction which prevents people from entering or encouraging others to enter safety zones around trees.
South Yorkshire Police said the force received ‘a number of third-party reports’ of disputes in Lismore Road, Abbeydale Park Rise and Crescent Road yesterday, adding that officers attended in order to keep the peace.
An Amey spokeswoman said: “We welcome peaceful protest and ask people to respect our staff, the local residents and the injunction. Unfortunately, some protesters are continuing to enter our legally defined safety zones around trees, potentially putting their own and our safety at risk.
“Continued disruption has left us with no option but to ask a professional stewarding company to help us keep people safe and within the law by preventing them from entering safety zones. This follows numerous attempts to explain to protesters that contravening Sheffield City Council’s injunction is an offence. It is a reluctant step, but one we feel we have no choice taking and for which we have the council’s support.”
She said that the private security firm was being paid for by Amey.
She added: “We are confident in their professionalism and will only tolerate exemplary conduct. However, should we receive an allegation we would treat it very seriously. Our staff wear body cameras and this can be reviewed if an allegation is made.”