No felling this week anywhere in Sheffield, which is incredibly good news.
We say no felling, there was the felling of one tree on Sheldon Road, however this was a tree that was causing proven (after two years of monitoring) structural damage to a house, something the campaign has known about for a year now, so the felling was uncontested. It once again shows the reasonableness of campaigners if hard evidence is shared transparently with us!
So why was there no other felling? The Council and Amey announced another pause in felling for a “couple of weeks.” In their press statement, the reason given was due to the danger posed to Amey staff from campaigners. This clearly isn’t the real reason, but it begs the question what was? There have been a number of theories posed. Just a few include:
- The election Purdah period;
- Easter school holidays;
- Police pressure (the presence of 33 police officers at felling sites is actually slowing the felling down, and is clearly unsustainable for that number of Police to be supporting Amey for the next 104 weeks or so required to fell the remaining threatened trees);
- Political pressure from within the Labour Party (3 local Labour MPs, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Shadow Environment Secretary, local Councillors etc);
- Media pressure (A huge storm of interest from national and international media in recent weeks);
- Revelations about the content of the PFI contract and scrutiny of the quality of Amey’s wider work;
- A combination of some or all of the above!
There is also the question of how long the pause will be for. Could it be permanent, and mark a change in attitude, with a move to open and transparent discussion and engagement with the community? From the Council press statement, it clearly doesn’t look like it. Our personal view is that Council has really felt huge media heat and are under extreme pressure, but that they have made the classic move of trying to sound more reasonable in announcing a pause to allow that heat to dissipate, before returning to felling in a few weeks’ time. Let’s hope not!.
Like we always say, as a campaign we need to be using the pause in a useful way. That could be to recharge our batteries, but to also to continue to pressure the Council, Amey, the Police and Acorn in many other ways.
Future Key Events:
In the coming week there are two events your presence would be greatly appreciated at:
1) Wednesday 4th April at 1pm on Western Road – The Sunday Times is writing a huge expose of the crazy situation and would like at many campaigners as possible to turn up to Western Road at that time/day for a huge photo opportunity;
2) Saturday 7th April at 9.45am outside Sheffield City Hall – STAG founder Dave Dillner has organised this large rally. Those attending will march around town and back to the City Hall to hear speakers. These include prominent people from the Arboricultural, Environmental and Ecological professions, as well as people from the world of entertainment, including Jarvis Cocker!
And that’s all for this week. Enjoy the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend.