Police called after alleged assault during Kenilworth tree felling protest

Police were called after an alleged assault at a protest over tree felling in a rural part of Kenilworth this morning (Monday May 21).

Monday, 21st May 2018, 6:05 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:42 am
Pc Mark Finch of West Mercia Police speaking to Cllr Sue Gallagher and Joshua Tebby after the incident

Protestors, including Ben and Joshua Tebby, the sons of Ray Tebby who owns Rouncil Farm, were on site when they saw contractors had turned up to start felling trees at land off Rouncil Lane between Rouncil Farm and Roundshill Farm.

But Ben claimed he was attacked on the public footpath by three of the contractors.

His brother Joshua then claimed he tried to stop the alleged assault after hearing Ben shouting. Joshua claimed he was also attacked in the process.

One of the felled trees as it looked on Thursday May 17.

Warwick district councillor Sue Gallagher, who was among the nine or so protestors, then called the police.

The on site police officer, Pc Mark Finch of West Mercia Police, confirmed no arrests had been made but the men had voluntarily gone to Leamington Police Station to be interviewed.

The felling, which started on Thursday May 17, was protested at the time by Joshua and Warwick district councillor Sue Gallagher. They got into a heated exchange with county councillor Alan Cockburn, who is the leaseholder of the land.

Landowner Christine Archer, Alan Cockburn's sister-in-law who rents the land to him, was granted a 'thinning licence' from the Forestry Commission to cut down the trees. The licence takes precedence over the TPOs that were placed on the trees last year.

The protest group questioned the existence of the licence, claiming they could not find a copy of it online.

Despite the alleged incident, the group remain committed to protesting the felling.

Ray Tebby, the owner of Rouncil Farm said: "We're going to keep being here. Whether there's a licence or not, we're going to continue to campaign.

"Not only that, it doesn't matter whether the Forestry Commission come out, we're not having these trees cut down. We will be here."

And Paul Hobbins, a Kenilworth tree surgeon who arrived some time after the alleged incident, questioned whether the trees being felled were indeed dead.

He said: "They're not 'thinning' these trees, they're felling them.

"There's about four dead trees. The company I work for has already done a report on these trees, and there were only four dead.

"It makes me angry. They must be 400 years old, they've got to be.

"All the other trees in town, we have to check to see if there's a TPO on them or not. We're not allowed to touch them if there is. I don't know how they're getting away with it here."

In an interview on Thursday, Cllr Cockburn said a licence had been granted. He added: "We've got a licence from the Forestry Commission to fell these trees. The contractors said they will do a visual inspection to see if to see if there's birds nesting. If there's birds nesting, they won't fell the tree."

No more felling is due to take place today.

A spokesman for the Forestry Commission confirmed a thinning licence was granted to fell up to 100 'growing' trees in the area - i.e. living trees - as long as no more than 30 per cent of the canopy cover was removed. They also confirmed the TPOs were taken into account when the licence was issued.

They added: "Individuals are required to apply for a felling licence before felling trees and doing so without a licence may result in prosecution.

“We will visit the site, and are unable to go into further detail while investigations are ongoing.”