Sheffield Greens have welcomed news that charges against Councillor Alison Teal, representing Nether Edge and Sharrow Ward, have been dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Cllr Teal was arrested in early February for peacefully protesting against the felling of mature, healthy trees on Chippinghouse Road, along with six other local residents.
Two further women were arrested days later while standing peacefully on private property at the invitation of a resident, an apparently novel use of repressive anti-trade union legislation. The charges against them have also been dropped.
Natalie Bennett, the Green Party prospective parliamentary candidate for Sheffield Central, commented, “We welcome the decision to drop charges against Cllr Alison Teal, a well liked and respected local politician, and those against the other peaceful protesters. But it does throw into further doubt the actions of the South Yorkshire Police in apparently acting as an agent for the private contractor Amey.
“I will be writing to Dr Alan Billings to ask him to investigate the police actions.
“We are now in a situation where the Crown Prosecution Service by dropping the charges has confirmed the right to peaceful protests to protect trees, and the ball is in the City Council’s court.
“Sheffield City Council needs to rethink the whole approach it has taken in allowing Amey to put private profit before public good, and find a new way forward that reflects the will of the community and that properly consults and then listens to residents’ views.”
Fellow Green Councillor Douglas Johnson, representing City Ward, joined the chorus of support for Cllr Teal and for all campaigners, saying
“Protestors across Sheffield were being arrested for standing up for the health and wellbeing of their communities, and for democracy in our city.
“We are pleased that common sense has prevailed and that there will be no prosecutions against peaceful protestors in Sheffield.
Credit for where we are today rests not just with the brave actions of individuals in standing up for their communities, but also the entire coalition of organisations that is the Sheffield Tree Action Group. Many people have worked extraordinarily hard in building a community campaign with broad support from across the city.”