That's the price for challenging Sheffield City Council's (SCC) disastrous policy of needlessly felling healthy, mature street trees.
Our street trees, many over a hundred years old, admired and treasured by the residents, are fundamental to the health of the urban ecology of Sheffield, yet they are being felled by an increasingly belligerent council. To date, more than 5500 mostly healthy trees have been cut down; thousands more are threatened.
Calvin Payne and Alastair Wright committed no crime, but in defence of our street trees, they both fell foul of a court injunction pushed through by SCC to force its felling programme on its own citizens. Not satisfied with their punishments for contempt of court, the Council is seeking inflated costs from Alastair and Calvin of £11,000 and £16,000 in costs respectively.
We want to raise £27,000 to pay Alastair and Calvin's legal costs with your help, and the support of Pulp's Nick Banks and Richard Hawley, actor Maxine Peake, and Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party, George Monbiot, author and environmentalist, along with Ken Loach, activist and film maker, and many others, all offering support and endorsing this Crowdfunder.
We will not stand by and watch legitimate peaceful protest and civil disobedience being extinguished by an anti-democratic SCC with its taste for expensive legal action. For every injunction hearing brought before the judge, SCC is deliberately paying £16,000 a day for London based legal representation so as to intimidate protestors by emptying their wallets and savings accounts.
Tree campaigners in Sheffield, like Calvin and Alastair, are simply asking that the council complies with current urban forestry good practice. A perfectly reasonable request. The council has responded with threats, force, and an army of private security guards to intimidate the many protestors that now attend felling sites on a daily basis. It has ignored experts on all sides, and even ignored the findings of its own 'Independent Tree Panel'.
In this long-running and increasingly bitter dispute, SCC and its principal contractor, Amey plc, have resorted to increasingly desperate measures and unsafe working practices to fell healthy street trees. Their relationship is underpinned by a confidential Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal, a form of financing which is widely discredited; it has led to the privatisation of Sheffield streets and street trees.
The Council has mounted dawn raids, has tried (and failed at great cost) to have a serving Green councillor imprisoned, has smeared and slandered campaigners in the media, while its representatives have repeatedly lied to the people of Sheffield.
The felling has continued in the face of condemnation by environmental and arboricultural organisations. Even Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs called the programme “bonkers” after visiting Sheffield to assess the situation. Nothing is sacred, not even the revered Western Road Memorial trees, planted in 1919 to remember the young men of Crookes who never returned from World War I. Those trees have been earmarked for destruction. As ever, the public outcry has fallen on deaf ears.
With your help and support, we can show the council that it cannot quell the spirit and tradition of civil disobedience and peaceful protest, of which this city and the whole country can be justly proud.
All funds collected through this Crowdfunder campaign will be administered by Unitarian Minister Rev. Sarah Tinker as the official treasurer. Rev. Tinker who is Sheffield born and bred, has agreed to ensure probity and transparency in the collection and dispensation of all the funds collected.
Thank you for reading. Please do check back on this page soon as we post updates.
This campaign is organised by the campaign group ' STUMP UP SHEFFIELD'
*** Mar 15 2018 - Payments via PayPAL ***
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This campaign is sponsored by:
NO STUMP CITY – firstname.lastname@example.org
SHEFFIELD TREE ACTION GROUPS – https://savesheffieldtrees.org.uk/
Cover photos by Luis Arroyo & Pixelwitch Pictures