A quite incredible week for the campaign, one that will live long in memories.
For three days, Monday to Wednesday, around 30 police supported around 30 “yellow jackets” (private security, evidence gatherers, barrier crews and felling crews) came to Thornsett Road to fell trees. Between 30 and 50 campaigners tried to stop the felling on those three days, and whilst two trees were lost, one of which was diseased, the defensive action was very successful. Two trees in three days given the huge costs of hiring the Police and private security is certainly no success for Amey.
Over the course of the week, ingenious tactics were used by campaigners, nearly all of which were entirely legal. There were arrests, but there were also “de-arrests” as a result of campaigners being improperly arrested. There was also more violence from SIA security, with lots of people reporting it to the Police.
By Thursday the snow and ice was so bad that Amey chose not to even try felling in the final two days of the week. We imagine they will be regrouping and re-thinking again, as I expect they believed they’d be able to perhaps fell up to 10 trees in the course of the week.
As things stand, we are not aware of any new parking restriction notices for next week, so only the existing ones apply, which end after Monday.
As per updates earlier in the week, the key to the success of the defensive action this week was lots of people being on the road ahead of the felling crews arriving. On Wednesday, because of repeat callouts from 8am, by 10.15am, when the felling crews arrived, 40 campaigners were on the road.
We need this again in the coming weeks. If you receive a callout from the emergency tree phone, don’t assume there are enough people already on the road. If you have time, even if only an hour, please attend yourself. The more people the better, it really does make a difference. And don’t forget you don’t have to be in the thick of the action to be useful. Simply videoing and photographing events, acting as a witness is absolutely critical.
Recent Public Meeting and Politics:
On a slightly different note, at the Public Meeting on Monday, we held a discussion about how political Save Nether Edge Trees (SNET) should be. The reason we did this was because of what happened last June. All the tree campaign groups, since they were established in 2015, have done their best to not be political at all. So in the Nether Edge by-election in June 2017, SNET took the decision not to endorse the most street tree positive candidate, instead remaining broadly neutral. Robin Unwin (Green Party) was the most street tree positive candidate but lost by just over 100 votes. The Labour Party were fearful of losing the council seat, and the fact they won, despite all the tree controversy, gave them huge confidence to continue the felling. Every time a campaigner meets a Council official or Councillor, they bring this up. In hindsight, many of us believe that if SNET had campaigned proactively for Rob, he would have won, and this would have worried the Labour Party sufficiently to think again about some of their actions. We may be wrong in this analysis, but we have strong reasons to believe we are right.
So on that basis, we held the discussion/debate at the Public Meeting. It was a really positive debate. The broad thrust of most points made were that the whole tree campaign and PFI issues are absolutely political, even if they aren’t necessarily party political. So the tree campaign cannot avoid being political. The broad consensus in the room was that we should not stray into being party political, but should support and campaign for the most tree positive candidate, if not their party.
Some in the room did point out that as well as seeking external political change (ie change of party leading the Council), action was needed to achieve internal political change (change within the current Labour led Council). That is what the No Stump City initiative is trying to achieve, with lots of success so far. As a result, SNET continue to support and promote No Stump City activities.
“Love Sheffield” Initiative:
On a similar theme, you’ll note we have been promoting Its Our City. A similar and related initiative is something called “Love Sheffield.” It’s aim is to use social media to introduce local people to the leading “alternative to Labour” candidate, to try to encourage floating voters to pick someone different, and to ultimate achieve a greater balance at the overall Council. For more information, visit www.lovesheffield.net
“Get Off Our Tree” Campaign Support Concert:
Of course, there are lots of other things going on it the campaign. There is the concert called Get Off Our Tree being held on 16th March at City Hall. Jarvis Cocker, Richard Hawley, the Everly Pregnant Brothers and others have organised this themselves to support the campaign, quite incredible.
Really important Petition:
Also, a reminder about the petition you REALLY need to sign if you haven’t already. Think about the fact that Amey repeatedly gritted Thornsett Road to allow felling, yet didn’t clear snow or grit many of the main arterial roads, causing issues for the emergency services. Do you want this company continuing to “maintain” road in our city for the next 20 years? Please sign.
Save Fitzalan Square Petition:
Sheffield City Council are planning to redevelop Fitzalan Square in Sheffield City Centre. The plans include felling the 4 healthy mature plane trees that surround the statue of King Edward VII. These are the only remaining mature trees in the city centre and must be retained. Fitzalan Square suffers from poor air quality due to traffic pollution. The London Plane trees are particularly effective at removing pollutants from traffic-heavy areas like this in the city centre.
The trees are one of the few things of beauty in a Square currently noted for its ugly betting shops, proliferation of litter and intrusive advertising boards.
The trees provide a great deal of biodiversity to the square including birds and insects which would be lost despite the planting of new saplings. Please support here
And that’s all folks. Thanks as ever for your continued support, this icy cold week in particular, many of your support has been incredible.