Opinion: Green and proud

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Asked what their favourite things are about Sheffield, many people give the same response.

The city’s greenness - and its residents’ love of it - is the stuff of legend.

Wherever you live in this great city you’re never far away from a park or at least a patch of urban greenery.

We care passionately about our environment. Witness the furore over the felling of trees, some diseased or dangerous, that erupted in the autumn.

Now communities across the city fear that their local oasis is under threat once again, this time because of the massive budget cuts that are causing city council leaders to slash services to the bone.

Grass cutting and other maintenance works - though nothing that endangers health and safety - are being reduced as £100,000 is wiped from the parks’ department budget.

Now, the council top brass say it’s not necessarily about cash. They say it’s about creating a more “naturalistic” environment, creating havens for wildlife.

While few would argue with that concept, it seems like a bit of a smoke screen in this case. Surely cash does come into it?

We all know the council has very difficult decisions to make and priorities must be protecting Sheffield’s vulnerable people. Saving brass on non-essential stuff is the sensible course of action, no question, and , yes, the parks’ budget must expect to come under scrutiny like everything else.

A mix of environments, natural and well-maintained formal, would seem to be the thing.

Formal municipal parks, with their history stretching back centuries, are something to be proud of.

They’ve been enjoyed by generations of Sheffielders of all ages.

As we aim for the title of the UK’s fittest city they are a valuable - and free- “gym” giving thousands of people access to fresh air and opportunities to exercise.

You only need to walk through a park on a warm, summer’s day to see how poplar they remain.

The council says there will be consultation. Let’s hope they listen.