Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/24835

Posted on 2 March 2017 at 12:09 GMT

Sheffield 'trees' protest outside court, Dec 2016

Sheffield 'trees' protest outside court, Dec 2016   (Click to enlarge)

'Anti-union law' charges against Sheffield trees protesters dropped

"Not in the public interest"

Calvin Payne, one of the charged protesters

The Labour-run Sheffield City Council is almost five years into a 25 year, 2.2 billion, Private Finance Initiative (PFI) 'maintenance' contract with a multinational company called Amey, to resurface and maintain our streets and pavements.

It soon became apparent that part of the deal was that a city that is rightly proud of its trees and green spaces was going to lose lots of them for Amey's profit. A city-wide campaign soon organised itself to challenge the flimsy arguments put forward by the council. However it was impervious to expert opinion from across the world and more direct opposition began to be organised.

In June 2015 the first neighbourhood group organised itself to physically prevent contractors from felling healthy trees, attracting lots of media attention and successfully saving the trees on their street by forming a line of residents across the road. Since then parts of the Save Sheffield Trees campaign have adopted more militant tactics in standing up to the felling programme.

For several months the growing action was achieving success, until 2nd November last year when the Amey contractors, accompanied by South Yorkshire Police, arrived to fell a single tree in Nether Edge. On this occasion they were both waving a copy of the 1992 Trade Union Act - Tory anti-trade union legislation used against pickets in industrial disputes, which threatens a six month prison sentence.

Standing firm

Campaigners were accused of 'hindering workers from using their tools' as we peacefully stood our ground against environmental destruction for private profit. The police spent four hours trying to persuade us to end our stand. They were threatening to arrest us, while also trying to encourage us to go home! It was clear they didn't know what to make of the situation, however they had instructions from somewhere and the final warning was given to around 20 of us to disperse.

After lengthy discussions about the way forward we decided to call their bluff and two of us refused to move when the final warning was given by a police Inspector. With a dozen reporters and cameramen present myself and a colleague were very peacefully arrested and taken to the holding cells. There we were held for eight hours as the police couldn't find the charge on the computer, as they had never arrested anyone for it before! Two days later confirmation was received that the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) were going to proceed with the charges.

In court

On 1st December the two of us appeared before the local magistrates' court and heard the charge. Around 150 people attended a rally outside the court and national media carried the story. We pleaded 'not guilty' and looked forward to having a full trial with the police, Amey, and Sheffield council representatives being questioned about the secretive nature of their contract dealings.

Over the next couple of months 11 more campaigners, including a Green councillor, were arrested for peaceful, static, protest under the same untested law and the focus on our 9th March trial date became more intense.

Then last week we heard that our charges had been dropped by the CPS as 'not in the public interest' despite our charges and court appearance satisfying the same condition. It isn't clear when it stopped being in the public interest to arrest, charge, and possibly imprison members of the public for peaceful protest. At the time of writing nine of the charges are still standing, awaiting review, and the direct action against tree felling in Sheffield is growing with more people coming forward to risk being arrested if necessary.

The fight against PFI sponsored environmental attacks in Sheffield continues to grow. Cuts are cuts whether they be about social care, jobs, trees, or anything else. People from all backgrounds are fighting back and we need to unite to achieve a real difference.


Breaking news, 3.3.17: 'Anti-trade union law' charges against the remaining nine Sheffield Trees protesters have been dropped because of "No realistic prospect of a conviction". That means all 14 arrestees have now had charges dropped.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 2 March 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.






Related links:

Sheffield:

triangleSouth Yorkshire: No to fire service cuts!

triangleSouth Yorkshire Freedom Riders - still battling on

triangleWell-supported strike against cuts at Bradfield school

triangleSheffield tree campaigners' legal win

triangleKeep profiteering developers out!

Union:

triangleEquity manifesto lays out anti-austerity model for arts

triangleBirmingham HS2 protest against bosses' attacks on trade union organisation

triangleBEIS: Outsourced caterers' indefinite strike victory

triangleLabour and the fight for a shorter working week

Police:

triangleNorthern Ireland: Campaign mounts over historic sexual abuse allegations cover-up

triangleKnife and gun crime a product of poverty and austerity

triangleInterview: protests over killing in Israel

Council:

triangleLincolnshire health visitors strike

triangleAttacks on Caerphilly waste management workers

South Yorkshire:

triangleSouth Yorkshire defeats fire cuts

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

9/10/19

Caerphilly

Attacks on Caerphilly waste management workers

9/10/19

PCS

BEIS: Outsourced caterers' indefinite strike victory

9/10/19

York

York freshers success

9/10/19

Leeds

'The little people can win' - Leeds tenants push back demolition

9/10/19

Health

Huge opposition to Barry rehab ward closure

9/10/19

Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest: mobilisation needed to defend abortion rights

9/10/19

Socialism

Socialism 2019: why I'm going... and why you should too!

9/10/19

Socialist Party

Best way to fight back? Join the Socialist Party

9/10/19

Socialism

Socialism: The alternative to capitalist austerity, low pay and crisis

9/10/19

Unison

Unison's retired members reflect growing anger

9/10/19

RMT

Vote for socialist fighter Jared Wood in RMT elections

9/10/19

Equity

Equity manifesto lays out anti-austerity model for arts

9/10/19

Birmingham

Birmingham HS2 protest against bosses' attacks on trade union organisation

9/10/19

Royal Mail

Vote yes to Royal Mail strike action to take on the bullying bosses

9/10/19

Usdaw

Sainsbury's strikers win

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999