This morning Green Party Councillor Alison Teal, representing Nether Edge and Sharrow Ward, Sheffield, was arrested along with 6 other members of the public for peacefully protesting against the felling of a tree on Chippinghouse Road. The arrests were made using anti-Trade Union legislation.
Sheffield Green Party support the right to peaceful protest, and support the actions of Cllr Teal and all Sheffield residents protesting peacefully against the Labour Council’s tree felling plans.
After the same laws were used to arrest other peaceful protestors in the city late last year, the Sheffield Green Party tabled a motion of no confidence against the Council leadership, which was rejected. The Party has demanded a statement from both the Council and the Police and Crime Commissioner on the arrests.
Speaking after Cllr Teal’s arrest, fellow Green Party Councillor Douglas Johnson, representing City Ward, said the following:
“The right to peaceful protest is an important part of living in a democracy.
“There have been a number of tree-related protests and non-violent direct action, due to the way local residents feel they have been routinely ignored by both Amey and the Council when it comes to maintaining their streets.
“The Sheffield Green Party completely support Cllr Teal and the other protestors, and will stand with them against any charges and court proceedings which may follow. We condemn the use of anti-Trade Union laws against these peaceful protestors, as we did when similar laws were used to arrest 2 tree protestors late last year.
Green Party prospective parliamentary candidate for Sheffield Natalie Bennett expressed solidarity with the 7 people arrested this morning, saying:
“These were people trying to defend their community, their environment, the wellbeing of their neighbours, and stand up for democracy.
“Public opposition to the private company Amey’s tree-felling programme has been strong, determined and widespread. Just last week the council debated the third 5,000-plus petition about tree-felling plans, reflecting the strength of feeling in the city.
“These seven individuals, like five people arrested before them, three of whom were brought to the court before the Crown Prosecution Service dropped all charges, were peacefully protesting the unnecessary loss of trees that help to clear Sheffield’s polluted air, help prevent flooding, and improve the health and wellbeing of residents and visitors.
“Sheffield is known as the Green City, but around the world it is increasingly becoming known as the city that cuts down trees.
“Reports suggest that Alison and the other six people were arrested under repressive anti-trade union legislation. Labour council leader Julie Dore condemned its use at earlier arrests, and yet she’s again created a situation where it has been used against peaceful protesters.
“This situation cannot go on. There is no public consent for the actions of the for-profit contractor or the council. Either Amey should recognise that its reputation is suffering and give up the contract, as Atos did over the work capability assessment, or the council should insist that Amey manage the city’s streets for public good, not private profit.”