Sheffield tree-felling saga: Man arrested and woman injured as dozens of police and security staff descend on suburb

Dozens of police officers were in attendance at Abbeydale Park Rise today. Picture: Scott Merrylees
Dozens of police officers were in attendance at Abbeydale Park Rise today. Picture: Scott Merrylees
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A man has been arrested, a woman injured and numerous people reported to court for summons in the latest stand-off in the increasingly-bitter Sheffield tree-felling row as dozens of police officers and private security staff descended on a suburban street today.

Sheffield Council contractor Amey wishes to remove 19 of the 65 cherry trees on Abbeydale Park Rise in the affluent suburb of Dore as part of a delayed highways maintenance contract that had been due to see the removal of around 6,000 trees by the end of last year, with saplings planted as replacements.

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With some felling work still outstanding, the council and Amey say only dead, dying, diseased or dangerous trees are being removed but campaigners argue much of the felling involves healthy trees that do not need to be cut down.

Nine of the trees on the street were removed last year but Amey staff, supported by "specially trained stewards" and in attendance with around 30 police officers, returned to the road today.

It is the second week since South Yorkshire Police announced there would be a higher level of police presence at felling sites following a pause in tree-felling work after "disorder and violence" on Meersbrook Park Road involving campaigners and Amey's security staff which resulted in a number of injuries.

Some campaigners climbed threatened trees to stop felling from taking place today.

A man was arrested on suspicion of assaulting an Amey worker and one woman was injured in a fracas on the street.

Russell Johnson, a member of the Sheffield Trees Actions Groups which are campaigning against what they believe to be unnecessary removals, said the number of police officers in attendance was an "absolute waste of resources".

He said barriers had been placed around three trees but Amey had been unable to fully fell any of them. Mr Johnson said he had counted 33 police officers on the road.

"There is a big question about the reputation of South Yorkshire Police being affected yet again," he said.

A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said: "We will never confirm the number of officers involved in an operation while it is ongoing, however we will have a higher number of officers at each site to allow their rotation throughout the day, and to provide support should they be required. This is standard procedure for operations of this nature."

A spokeswoman for Amey said the company had 35 people on the street, including 23 stewards.

She added: "Our work replacing street trees is essential, and so is the need to keep our staff and members of the public safe and within the law. Sadly, we need the help of specially trained stewards to keep our work area safe as, despite our best efforts to carry out the council’s duty to maintain the city’s highways, and a High Court injunction, a small minority of people continue to deliberately obstruct our lawful work.

"There are about 65 trees on Abbeydale Park Rise, of which 19 were assessed as needing to be replaced. Of these 19 around 10 still need replacing."

A number of people were reported for summons under section 303 of the Highways Act 1980.