Sheffield Council is to invest an extra £1.5 million in parks across the city over the next three years - bucking a trend, the authority says, against a national background of austerity and budget cuts.
The money, £500,000 a year for the next three financial years, will go towards improving parks and play facilities.
Much of the investment will come from the city’s public health budget, with the aim of narrowing the gap between the healthiest and least healthy parts of Sheffield.
The announcement comes a week after a national parliamentary inquiry pointed to a growing UK crisis in parks, with declining facilities and persistent under-investment.
The report pointed to the dangers of a tipping point in the country’s parks and the new investment here in Sheffield is designed to avoid this.
Some of the money will be used to create new jobs - four new apprentices will be recruited in the coming financial year, to work across the council’s parks service and learn the job from the ground up.
The programme of improvements will begin at Norfolk Heritage Park, where £80,000 is to spent on renewing the playgrounds, in collaboration with ward councillors and the Friends of Norfolk Heritage Park. Work is set to begin there in September. Information on the other projects is to be revealed soon.
Coun Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said: “Starting with Norfolk Park, we’re today pledging to improve parks and playgrounds where health needs are greatest. And we hope that by investing in outdoor recreation, we’re investing in the future health of Sheffielders across many areas of the city.”