Protester with broken arm was among 40 ‘tree protectors’ who failed to stop felling of an old lime tree.
A newly ordained vicar armed with a tambourine and a woman with a broken arm and a pink glittery recorder are among the latest protesters to be arrested in Sheffield while trying to halt the destruction of the city’s trees.
The arrests have provided further ammunition to the environment secretary, Michael Gove, who has accused Sheffield city council of “environmental vandalism” and promised to do “anything required” to end its controversial tree-felling programme.
The two women were arrested on Thursday as they protested against the felling of lime trees on Chatsworth Road in the wealthy Dore area of Sheffield.
They were among a group of about 40 “tree protectors” who tried and failed to protect an old lime tree named the Duchess. They demonstrated with an array of noise-making instruments, showing solidarity with a woman who was arrested on Wednesday after tooting a plastic trumpet and setting off a rape alarm after telling police that council contractors were “raping the trees”.
According to Sally Goldsmith, the first woman to be arrested on Chatsworth Road was “a middle-aged lady with a broken arm and a pink glittery recorder”. She was arrested while allegedly obstructing the truck that arrived to take away wood from the felled Duchess.
The second person, according to Goldsmith, was a vicar with a tambourine, who was arrested for chasing after the first woman, who had her car keys.
According to the protesters’ blog, the vicar was later released without charge from Snig Hill custody suite.
On Friday Gove gave an interview to the BBC in which he said the council had been “strong-armed and draconian” with citizens who had tried to protest, and called on the Labour leadership to intervene.
He has been accused by his Labour counterpart of bandwagon-jumping. Sue Hyman, the shadow environment secretary, has written to the council offering to formally mediate.
“Practical solutions and sensible dialogue are what is needed, not jumping on political bandwagons and throwing fuel on the fire, as we have seen from Michael Gove,” she wrote.
South Yorkshire police confirmed that two women were arrested on Chatsworth Road on Thursday. The first, a 56-year-old woman, arrested for obstructing the highway, was released under investigation; and the second, 53, agreed to take part in restorative justice after being held on suspicion of obstructing a constable. A 50-year-old man was also arrested for obstruction on Heathfield Street in the Frecheville area of Sheffield on Friday, the force said.
Thursday’s arrests were soundtracked by the inaugural performance of the Chatsworth Tree Voice Choir, accompanied by the tooting instruments, very few in tune.
They serenaded officers from South Yorkshire police with songs including the theme from Z Cars and A Policeman’s Lot from the Gilbert and Sullivan musical, The Pirates of Penzance, Goldsmith said.
On Friday morning a student scaled the last remaining lime tree on Chatsworth Road. He did not want to give his name but is known as Young Swampy 2 – in homage to the notorious tree protester from the Newbury Bypass protests of the 1990s.
On Friday police said they had charged a man after a protest on Rivelin Valley Road on Tuesday. Justin Buxton, 47, was charged with obstruction of the highway and is due to appear before Sheffield magistrates court on 24 April.
A 47-year-old man, arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated harassment under Section 4a of the Public Order Act 1986, has been bailed with conditions.
A freedom of information request has revealed that the council’s 25-year private finance initiative (PFI) deal with the contractor Amey specifies that as many as 17,500 trees – half of the city’s 36,000 trees – could be felled as part of the work to maintain the city’s roads and pavements.