As the continuing dispute rages regarding the urban trees, , I also understand that the campaigners’ petition has increased to more than 6,000 signatures. I wish them every success in their campaign.
Yet I wonder why it is that there is very little comment or concern over the breaking of the Graves Park covenants?
Our petition on Change.org has more than 12,500 signatures, although it was only started in January.
Most of the signatories are Sheffield people, who own Graves Park, and for whom the council is supposed to be keeping the park in trust.
Despite this, the council have gone ahead and sold Cobnar Cottage, part of the original 1925 covenant.
The Friends of Graves Park have been campaigning for more than two years to keep the cottage as an asset for the park.
Our latest proposal of letting a stonemason live there, restore it and run stonemasonry workshops for Sheffield people was turned down without any serious discussion.
The council has tried to minimise the breaking of the covenants by telling the people that the cottage is, “next to the park”, “outside the walls of the park”, and stating that once sold, it will be protected so that it has to be “residential”, (What’s that supposed to mean?).
Representatives of the council have accused the Friends of many things, including being out of touch with what most people in Sheffield want, being misleading regarding the facts of the sale and being in cahoots with political parties.
As a charity in its own right, the Friends of Graves Park are non-political and encompass a wide range of political views.
Contrary to the statement on the dubious survey conducted in August on behalf of the council, Cobnar Cottage was NOT bought by the Council in 1925; it was purchased by JG Graves as part of Graves Park.
If the council did not want it included in the covenants, they should have sorted that out in 2009, when the latest scheme was agreed.
If it wasn’t part of the covenant, we would not be having this battle now.
Now that the sale has gone through, contrary to the wishes of JG Graves in 1925 and Sheffield City Council in 2009, (I assume this as they drew up the scheme protecting all of the park and signed it), the council are assuring us that there are no plans to sell off any other areas of the park “at this time”.
The council appear to be disappointed when we tell them that we do not believe them.
They forget that we have been fighting to protect the covenants on Graves Park for more than 18 years and we have heard it all before. We do not trust them.
The Friends of Graves Park are continuing to object to the sale of Cobnar Cottage in the hope that someone in the country’s establishment will eventually realise that in selling this part of Graves Park, the council have acted in breach of the covenants, have a serious conflict of interest and have actually broken the law.
The Friends will continue to trawl through the various Government departments until they find which one is prepared to take responsibility for holding Sheffield City Council to account.
We will try to find someone we can trust.
Chair, Friends of Graves Park