I am absolutely delighted that the Liberal Democrats, (Coun P Baker, www.thestar.co.uk/news/your-say/graves-park-was-gifted-to-the-people-1-7821429), have chosen to make Graves Park a key election issue.
It allows Sheffield people, and especially all those who love and enjoy Graves Park, to see a clear distinction between exciting investment and renewal of the park, supported by Labour and absolutely in the spirit of JG Graves’ gift to the city, and the dismal, slow deterioration championed by the Liberal Democrats.
Cobnar Cottage is outside the park, has never had any public access or use, is completely incidental to Graves’ ambitions and enthusiasm for the public ownership of open spaces and now, like any other property of that age, requires considerable renovation investment to make it fit to live in.
It is not required, in any way, shape or form, for the public enjoyment of Graves Park.
There was a clear choice as to how to proceed.
The Liberal Democrats chose to support a proposal to knock down Cobnar Cottage and, at a cost approaching £25,000, repair some walls and landscape the site.
There would be no public use or benefit.
Labour chose to support the proposal which sold the cottage, which would result in its refurbishment and use as a family home.
The proceeds from the sale would then be used to invest in new and modernised sporting facilities, playgrounds, toilets and more, all within Graves Park.
In fact, by using some of the proceeds, it has been possible to attract matched funding from elsewhere to increase the investment further.
It is no surprise that JG Graves’ Trustees supported this alternative.
The result is that Graves Park will now enjoy some £200,000 of investment over the next two years, none of which would have been possible without the sale of the Cottage.
The Liberal Democrat alternative would have required a near £25,000 cut in expenditure in the Park for absolutely no benefit.
I have no doubt as to which choice JG Graves would have made.
Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods