Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Charges dropped over Sheffield tree felling protest

Jenny Hockey and Freda Brayshaw (right) Image copyright PA
Image caption Jenny Hockey and Freda Brayshaw said in November they were exercising their 'right to protest'

Charges against two women who were arrested after a tree-felling protest in Sheffield have been dropped.

Jenny Hockey, 70, and Freda Brayshaw, 72, were accused of public order offences after a stand-off with police officers and contractors in November.

The pair were part of a group campaigning against the felling of trees in Rustlings Road.

But at a hearing at Sheffield Magistrates' Court earlier the case was discontinued.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Streets Ahead scheme has sparked several petitions and protests

Sheffield City Council contractors began cutting down eight trees on the street on 17 November as part of an improvement scheme.

The council said the work needed to be done as part of a £2bn scheme to get rid of diseased, damaging or dangerous trees.

Campaigners said the trees were healthy and should remain.

The council later apologised for the dawn felling tactics and vowed not to repeat them.

'Obviously relieved'

Mrs Hockey, a retired sociology professor, and Mrs Brayshaw, a retired teacher, arrived at court but were told that the Crown Prosecution Service had decided not to proceed with the case.

Speaking outside, Mrs Brayshaw said: "We're obviously very relieved that the case hasn't been taken forward.

"It's been a whole chain of surprises. We couldn't make head nor tail of it and we were prepared for anything this morning.

"But it won't bring back the trees. As the months have gone by, living without the tree that was outside my house, it almost gets worse."

Mrs Hockey said she was originally arrested under trade union legislation but was eventually charged with a public order offence.

Speaking at the time of their arrests, Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg said: "I do not know what planet these people are on.

"Arresting elderly residents? Arresting them when they are just trying to say 'don't chop this tree down'?"

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