Newark protesters in standoff with police as council prepares to cut down trees

Campaigner Nadia Ming was among protesters who initially stayed with the trees inside the fenced area as it was put up on Thursday.
By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter

Campaigners attempting to stop four trees in Newark from being felled refused to leave the area even as fencing was put up around the site on Thursday.

The area on London Road has been fenced off this morning (November 11) ahead of plans to cut down the trees and turn the land into a car park extension.

But a group of protesters ended up refusing to leave the fenced off area – leading to a tense stand-off with contractors from Newark and Sherwood District Council and Nottinghamshire Police who asked them to leave the site.

Some protesters eventually left late in the morning, but others continued to stay.

The council is in a legally binding agreement with a developer who owns the land to build the car park extension – and claims that reversing its decision to chop the trees would cost the taxpayer £1m.

A fence was put up around the trees on Thursday morning, ahead of the planned felling.

Campaigner Nadia Ming, who was at the site while the fence was put up this morning, said: “It’s just too much to see, too much to bear.

“This was such precious piece of land in the middle of the town with its trees and wildlife. It is going to be stripped bare.”

A representative of Protect Newark’s Green Spaces and Extinction Rebellion told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We got there at around 6.45am this morning as a red alert had been put out by the group.

“There were around 50-70 people there to begin with. The police arrived and so did a lot of contractors from Newark and Sherwood District Council.

“The council started to chainsaw a hedge to put a gate in for the security fencing. It was so loud and chaotic, feelings were running very high.

“Everybody is heartbroken, they feel so passionately about it.

“The council said they aren’t doing any more work on site today but they will be arresting people if they don’t leave.

“These are very ordinary and very concerned people of Newark.”

It comes after protesters were warned about trespassing by visiting the site as the council stressed that it is “private land and not public open space”.

The council confirmed its plan to fell the trees in a statement last week – but said it was a “tough decision” to make.

Deputy Leader of the Council Keith Girling (Con) said in October: “This is not a situation wanted to get into, but we’re in a legally binding contract now.

“The cost of getting out of that contract is far too much.

“As a council, we’ve got to do what we think is right, yes there were mistakes made and we aren’t trying to deny that.

“We will move on from them and make sure they don’t happen again.”

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