1. ITV Report

Pensioners arrested after stand-off with police over tree cutting in Sheffield

Contractors cut down the final tree in Rustlings Road, Sheffield. Credit: PA

Two pensioners have been arrested after a dawn protest against the controversial felling of trees in a residential street in Sheffield.

The women, aged 70 and 71, were two of three people allegedly involved in a stand-off with police and contractors who arrived to cut down the trees.

They were arrested under on suspicion of preventing lawful work under Section 241 of the Trade Union and Relation Act 1992.

Police at the scene in Rustlings Road. Credit: PA

Bob Hockey, whose 70-year-old wife Jenny, a retired university professor, is one of the women in police custody said she wanted "to make a stand".

"The police and contractors came and knocked on doors in the middle of the night at about 4.30am and asked people to move cars.

"She and another woman stood inside the ribbon around the tree. Then a young lad passing by jumped in and joined them.

Mr Hockey added that he did not blame the police as "they are just doing their job".

"We have been protesting because the council (Sheffield City) cutting down healthy trees and ignoring the advice of a panel they set up to advise them."

The council insists the work is 'essential' to ensure Sheffield has healthy trees in the future. Credit: PA

It follows a campaign against the tree-felling programme by the Sheffield Tree Action Group (Stag) who complained the council had not held a full consultation before launching the works.

Stag chairman David Dillner launched a legal bid to prevent the scheme, which went to the High Court earlier this year, but lost his case.

  • Council defends 'essential' maintenance work

In a statement, Bryan Lodge, the council's cabinet member for the environment, said he stood by the decision to do the "vital" maintenance work.

Mr Lodge said: "We carried out the work very early in the morning, on the advice of the police, to make sure it could be done safely. .

"I understand there are strong emotions about this but have to stand by the decision to do this vital maintenance work.

We've got 36,000 street trees in Sheffield and this programme means that in years to come we'll have even more."

Trees trunks and branches lie on the ground. Credit: PA

Former deputy prime minister and Sheffield Hallam Liberal Democrat MP Nick Clegg voiced his support for the campaigners.

Writing on Twitter, he condemned the council's actions.

South Yorkshire Police confirmed that 12 officers "provided assistance at the request of the council".

A police spokesman said: "We have a small presence to ensure the safety of local residents and contractors whilst the work is carried out.

Three people have been arrested on suspicion of preventing lawful work under Section 241 of the Trade Union and Relation Act 1992."