The fund has reached nearly £21,000 (as of 23 July 2017) but it is likely that the legal costs will be double that for the three day hearing that starts on 26th July.
They have been taken to the High Court by Sheffield City Council in order to intimidate them and other protesters. Sheffield City Council is hoping that the court will issue injunctions against the protesters, claim huge damages and prevent them and others from opposing the felling of trees in future. One Councillor is amongst the eight.
Graham Turnbull from STAG spoke at our 4 July Bristol Tree Forum meeting. The situation in Sheffield is shocking, with whole avenues of street trees being removed as part of a PFI agreement with Amey to manage Sheffield’s streets for 25 years. Quite simply, it is cheaper to remove most of the street trees and replace them with small saplings than to maintain the existing stock of trees. There have been 5 am dawn raids and arrests under obscure anti-trade union laws – although the Crown Prosecution Service dropped all charges against protesters. Now the council has decided to invoke civil law where the standard of proof is lower.
The problems Sheffield residents are facing are not unique. The outcome of their protests will determine whether other councils decide to embark on wholesale felling as a way of cutting costs. From a wider perspective, their council is seeking to outlaw peaceful protest. We should all help for those very reasons.