My email to Dr Billings today
Dear Dr Billings
I am writing to express my concern regarding recent arrests of peaceful protesters in Sheffield using low grade traffic legislation, Section 303 of the Highways Act 1980. As I am sure you are aware this carries a maximum fine of £200 and it’s use could be interpreted as rather extreme given the circumstances. It is also extraordinary that the ratio of arrests to actual charges is significantly below the national average.
It appears to me, and I am sure I am not alone, that this is simply a strategy to remove protesters from the scene and restrict their future participation in peaceful protests by the application of severe bail conditions restricting their human rights, as has been applied to similar protests across the UK.
Orgreave and Hillsborough are still fresh in the minds of many Sheffield residents, I fear Streets ahead will soon take on similar feelings of mistrust towards SYP.
The Sheffield Tree campaign has been one of the most peaceful protests, especially given the high levels of emotion amongst those protesting. Many are retired, many are professionals, our opinions are supported by Government Policy on the environment, medical and scientific evidence and industry standards. I urge you to step back and refrain from arresting peaceful residents in such a biased way as has been demonstrated in recent weeks.