Paul Powlesland saves trees in Sheffield

Legal advice provided by Paul Powlesland has recently been successful in helping to save trees in the city of Sheffield.

Local people in Sheffield have been involved in a long-running campaign to prevent healthy trees being felled by Amey PLC, under a PFI contract with Sheffield City Council. Trees were being felled because they damaged the pavement or curb stones; local residents fought back by standing under or near trees to prevent the fellings. However, this form of protest was met by South Yorkshire Police arresting people under section 241 of the Trade Union & Labour Relations Act 1992 for preventing a workman in the use of his tools. On numerous separate occasions, 15 people were arrested, some for merely standing on the pavement and some even for standing in their own front gardens.

Following a spate of arrests one Friday, Paul spent the weekend writing a pro bono advice to representatives of ‘Sheffield Tree Action Group’, setting out the legal position and concluding that the police were likely to be misapplying the Act in arresting people in the circumstances that they did. On the Monday, this advice was handed to the police, who called off fellings that day as a result. Since then, the police have not made any further arrests and the local Police & Crime Commissioner has released a statement saying that no further arrests would be made under section 241. As a result of this, campaigners have been able to continue their peaceful protests without the threat of arrest and many healthy trees have been saved from felling as a result.

Paul continues to advise those involved in the Sheffield tree campaign and those arrested under section 241 are intending to bring actions against South Yorkshire Police alleging that the arrests were unlawful.