Sheffield model boat group angry about disruption of park boating lake use and 'bullying'

Sheffield model boat enthusiasts have spoken of their frustration over problems using a park boating lake where they have sailed their craft since 1937.

Sheffield Ship Model Society meet three times a week at Millhouses Park and say they had a good relationship with former paddle boat operator Pullins but hit choppy waters when a new operator took over in April.

Group leaders say that parks staff now strictly enforce a new rule that nobody is allowed to have model boats on the lake after 10am.

Group chair Malcolm Senior has written to council officials and Millhouses ward councillors, complaining of “nothing but resistance to a fair and equitable resolution to the use of Millhouses Park Model Boating Lake,by boat modellers, no offer of consultation, in fact, quite the opposite, my emails have gone unanswered or resulted in threats.

The boating lake at Millhouses Park, Sheffied is at the centre of a row involving model boat enthusiasts

“Lies have been told and a bullying attitude by Parks and Countryside has become the norm. The boat club has been deprived of its meeting place which is currently unusable by the club.

“Models have been sailed on the lake for 84 years, with no licence being required and yet I am continually being told that all sailing by the boat club, on the boating lake, is unauthorised, where and when was this limitation introduced?”

‘Those sailing model boats have been harassed’

He added: “The club, prior to Covid-19, did hold regattas which were subject to a fee of £12 for each and a licence was required for these but as no regattas have been held for over two years now, a licence is clearly not required until regattas are re-introduced.”

Mr Senior claimed: “Over the last few weeks those sailing model boats have been harassed by the paddle boat operator, by the park keepers” and by a member of council staff.

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“Signs have been affixed to fencing around the Millhouses Park Model Boating Lake stating that model boats are only allowed on the water until 10am.”

Mr Senior said that using the boating lake and socialising together has been invaluable to members, especially during the pandemic.

Club commodore James Crowfoot said of the new operator: “I know he’s got to make some money and he’s part of the entertainment of the park but we’ve been there since 1937. It seems a bit silly.”

Sheffield City Council has been approached for comment.