'I salute you,' Jarvis Cocker tells Sheffield tree protesters as they march on city hall
'I salute you' - that was the message from Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker as he returned to Sheffield to join hundreds of tree protesters in a march to the City Hall.
A downpour of rain did not stop hundreds of people of all ages from descending on the city centre in support of the campaign to stop controversial tree felling work planned by Sheffield City Council.
Sheffield's Jarvis Cocker was among the speakers who addressed protesters at the conclusion of march through the city centre.
"It's great, it's made me feel very proud of Sheffield. I don't spend as much time as I used to in Sheffield, but I'm saluting you," Jarvis said of the march.
He added: "Chopping down trees at 4am is a little bit surreptitious, you're obviously not sure if what you're doing is right."
"I do think it's a situation that requires communication from both sides."
A Sheffield City Council spokesperson said:
“The Council has been consistently clear in its support of peaceful protest and we hope that this demonstration passes without incident not least because recent protest activity around tree replacement works has seen a clear shift to unlawful behaviour, which cannot be right, nor good for the reputation of our city.
“Considering the seriousness of the situation, we took the decision to pause work on replacing our street trees last week, as part of the Streets Ahead programme. This was not a decision which was taken lightly, but one which reflected the increasingly challenging circumstances that our workers were facing on a daily basis.
“The pause will enable our contractor, Amey, to look at all available working options for the remainder of the programme, which will ultimately see an increase in the number of street trees in Sheffield.”
BBC Countryfile contributor, 'Tree Hunter' Rob McBride told the crowd: "This is the worst case of urban tree destruction on the planet."
"The tree felling in this city is random, it's indiscriminate. The council are out of their depth with the contract."
"Egos and reputations are stalling progress in this city."
"We will win, we will save the trees."
Private contractor Amey is carrying out the work as part of Sheffield Council’s ‘Streets Ahead’ programme, a city wide road improvement programme.
It claims the trees earmarked for felling have been classed as dead, diseased or causing damage or obstruction – something the protesters dispute.Brian Mosley, of Wadsley, helped to organise the march, and is one of the founders of the Sheffield Action For Trees (SHAFT) campaign groups.
The 51-year-old said: "I'm very pleased with the turn out, we've got so many different kinds of people here to support us and to try and save the trees.
"This is just the start.
"We're here to give people information about Amey, about the council contract so people across Sheffield know what's going on."
Cecilia Browne, said the march had been organised to build upon the campaign's momentum, and to show Sheffield City Council 'we're not going away'.
"We want to show we're not a group of extremists, we're ordinary people who want to save Sheffield's healthy trees."
"Today is about building on the support we've got, and it's great to see so many people here," added the 54-year-old.