Sheffield City Council is seeking injunctions in the High Court on July 26-28 against a small number of trespassers who are repeatedly and deliberately preventing the replacement of street trees as part of the city’s highway improvement programme.
Court action is a last resort for the council following months of pointing out to the individuals involved the critical difference between peaceful protest – standing close to a work site but outside the safety barrier – and unlawful trespass, whereby an individual stands inside the barrier and brings work to a standstill.
A handful of people are therefore causing major disruption and delays to the £2bn programme which is upgrading roads, paths, street lights and replacing street trees across the city.
The council’s survey of 350 streets and regular feedback confirms that the majority of Sheffield residents welcome the work and want it completed. Furthermore, if the delays continue then the taxpayers of Sheffield face a potential multi-million pound penalty on the highways contract due to works not being completed on time.
We remain confident with our case, which is that whilst peaceful protest is always supported, direct action which stops work on the highway is unlawful trespass.
Following an appearance in High Court on the 14th July, the case was adjourned ahead of a full hearing next week.