Council to get rid of Sheffield shrub beds to help stop crime and drug use

About 17,000 needles were found when shrubs were removed from Park Square roundabout.
About 17,000 needles were found when shrubs were removed from Park Square roundabout.
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Up to 80 per cent of Sheffield's shrub beds could be removed in an attempt to prevent crime and drug use.

Sheffield Council wants to get rid of the bulk of the city's 200,000 sq m of shrub beds as it tries to make savings on the Streets Ahead contract.

The authority says the beds are tidied every fortnight, but are often used by criminals such as muggers to hide in. They are also used as hiding places for drug users.

Read more: Sheffield residents warned to expect dirtier streets if cuts to cleaning service are approved

According to the council 17,000 needles were found when shrub beds on Park Square roundabout were removed.

The beds will mostly be replaced by grass verges, while those with maturing trees in will be reclassified as woodland.

Wild mushrooms and flowers growing in a green space left uncut near Park Square roundabout.

Wild mushrooms and flowers growing in a green space left uncut near Park Square roundabout.

The council also plans to cut verges on 'high profile' routes and roundabouts less often to further save money.

And about 20 per cent of the city's suburban grassed area will only be cut once a year. The council says this is to create new habitats for wildlife.

Narrow verges outside homes will still be cut as normal.

The changes should save about £200,000 a year for the remaining 20 years of the Streets Ahead contract, working out as £4 million.

Bochum Parkway under the old mowing schedule, left, and under the new trial system, right. Photos: Julie Riley/Olivia Richardson

Bochum Parkway under the old mowing schedule, left, and under the new trial system, right. Photos: Julie Riley/Olivia Richardson

Less frequent mowing was trialled in some areas last year as part of a 'Living Highways' project with the University of Sheffield and the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust.

The council said it received no complaints, and early signs were that wildlife diversity had improved.

Trust CEO Liz Ballard added: "Trial sites have ranged from broad open road verges such as on Bochum Parkway to small patches of grass in residential areas.

"The data analysis is still being done to evaluate how the changes in mowing frequency impact on the biodiversity - plants, insects, etc as well as what the public think about the changes.

"Initial results indicate that in some areas changing the mowing regime will not work due to understandable concerns by local residents and practicalities.

"Elsewhere, such as Bochum Parkway, the signs are really positive, with these beautiful orchids being allowed to flourish.

"We have more work to do before wider roll out across the city."