Sheffield residents lose patience over park seating

Keith Ainley, Ernie Petch, Mike Pawson and Verne Briggs where the benches used to be in Ecclesfield Park
Keith Ainley, Ernie Petch, Mike Pawson and Verne Briggs where the benches used to be in Ecclesfield Park
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Pester-power from a determined group of grey-haired pensioners has led to a pledge from council chiefs to replace benches taken away from a Sheffield park four years ago.

Two benches were removed from Ecclesfield Park in 2010 because they were becoming unsafe - but new seating was never reinstalled in their place.

Crusading OAP Keith Ainley, aged 78, contacted Sheffield Council’s parks team on numerous occasions to enquire when the benches would be replaced, but was told the council would have to wait to see if its budget could cover the cost.

But after four long years of waiting Keith, and his group of friends who would sit on the benches every day when they met to catch up, said they’d had enough.

Keith said: “We don’t ask for much but we pay our dues, so we wanted the benches replaced. We’ve been patient, but four years is too long.

“Yes, there are other benches in the park, but we’re all getting on, so the benches on the main path by the bowling green were the easiest for us to get to. When they were taken away we were very disappointed - we’d been meeting there for years and didn’t want to change our habits.”

Council chiefs have apologised - and said the benches will be replaced in August.

Coun Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for leisure, said: “We had to remove the benches because they were becoming unsafe, due to many years of good usage.

“At the time we were unable to replace them because we have lots of demands on our budget and difficult decisions to prioritise across all our parks. We are sorry it has taken some time to replace the benches, but we are now in a position to complete this work. We want to make sure the people of Sheffield continue to enjoy spending time in our parks.”

Keith added: “I’m pleased we have finally got a result and can return to our routine, but the council need to think about the effect they’re having on people when they take things away.”