Millhouses Park boating lake: ‘Sheffield Council finally making improvement we’d asked for 10 years ago’

Bosses who are leaving Millhouses Park boating lake on Friday say Sheffield Council is now making improvements they had been requesting for 10 years.

Thursday, 14th April 2022, 2:36 pm

But they will not benefit from them because they have lost the contract to operate the facility after 12 years running the well known service on Abbeydale Road, which included getting through the problems of the pandemic which stopped business.

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End of an era as Pullin family ends 12 years operating boats at Millhouses Park,...

Sasha Pullin, who has run the boats over that time, said the council recently put in place new boards around the side of the lake, which they had wanted to see for years.

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The operator who is leaving Millhouses Park boating lake after losing the licence to run it after 12 years says Sheffield Council is making improvements they asked for 10 years ago, but they won't be there to see them

And he has told of his pride in what he and his family has achieved with the business.

He said: “Regarding the loss of the boating lake, we are obviously devastated to have lost the licence after developing the Millhouses boating lake facility into a popular family attraction over the last decade.

How Pullin family developed Millhouses boats

“We were very close pre-Covid to completing what had been a successful development plan to bring the boating lake back to its former glory.

The operator who is leaving Millhouses Park boating lake after losing the licence to run it after 12 years says Sheffield Council is making improvements they asked for 10 years ago, but they won't be there to see them

“Unfortunately we won’t be seeing our final vision as another company will now be taking over from our work and plans.

“It is also extremely disappointing to see that improvements that we have been requesting in some cases for nearly 10 years have finally been put in place for the new operators.”

He said the team running the boats worked hard over the years to develop the facility, investing their own time and money to secure its future for the public, by introducing new ideas and updating the facilities.

He said: “Many previous operators including Sheffield Council had tried and given up the business as it was unviable in its original condition.

“We decided 10 years ago to put forward plans to develop the site into a new family fun experience, hoping these new plans would secure the future of the boating lake as a new modernised facility for years to come.”

Mr Pullin also revealed his team had done additional work over the years around the boating lake and park, including helping Millhouses Park win its first Green Flag award, by employing extra staff to help with the watering of the gardens, cleaning and painting of the boating lake and to help clean up the park for its inspection.

He added: “We have also helped keep the park operating for the general public at holiday times and the weekends by cleaning up vandalism, unblocking toilets and informing the council of any problems regarding the park’s safety for the general public.

“All in all we have tried our best as a small family organisation and with great support from some wonderful employees to deliver the best service possible under difficult conditions for the general public.

“We would like to thank everyone that has supported us and used our facilities over the years.”

Sheffield Council retendering parks licences

Ruth Bell, head of parks and countryside at Sheffield Council, said: “We know how much our parks are loved across the city and we work extremely hard to make sure people have the best experience when visiting. Businesses that trade within our parks play an important role in enhancing that experience and it’s important that we review these and appoint the best possible providers.

“Several parks concessions were due for retender for the 2022-2025 period. As with all council commercial business, we have completed an open and fair tender process, and have to consider all applications.

“We have selected providers who best met the tender criteria and will see a mix of existing and new businesses operating in our parks.”

She added: "We understand that this is very difficult for those who were unsuccessful but we cannot automatically renew at the end of a contract and must conduct a process that is fair to all interested businesses.”