“Tree replacement is a policy of Sheffield City Council and its implementation a matter between the council and its residents.

“It is part of a larger programme to renew all Sheffield’s roads and pavements, and manage its roadside trees in a way that ensures that future maintenance can be effectively undertaken.

“The policy had cross-party support at the time: everyone wanted the potholes filled in.

“The police should not be drawn into delivery of the policy, as they were when they knocked on doors in the early hours on Rustlings Road. This was a matter for the city council and its contactors, as I said at the time.

“Of course, the police are inevitably involved when a breach of the peace or criminal offence is threatened.

“I have discussed repeatedly with the Chief Constable and senior officers, the use of the trade union legislation.

“All now accept the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision not to prosecute. But more importantly, the police should not be put in a position where they risk eroding the community’s trust and confidence in them and where they are repeatedly having to commit resources that would be better spent fighting crime.

“This week I held a joint meeting with the police and the council and the council assured me that they are happy to continue to meet the protest leaders.”