Sheffield’s green name ‘is at risk’

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Campaigners have warned that Sheffield’s green reputation is at risk from contractors and cuts to parks maintenance.

Communities fear the local landscape will suffer as more savings measures are brought in at green spaces.

The warning comes after the council approved plans to slash £100,000 from the pot which pays for grass cutting and other upkeep in parks.

Councillors claim the cutbacks will offer a more ‘naturalistic’ environment and a move towards a ‘less traditional’ look for parks.

But Maggie Hoyles, treasurer of the Friends of Firth Park, said: “Further cutbacks are going to be devastating to parks. Things are already down to the bone.

“The grass very rarely gets cut these days.

“You never see gardeners unless they’re doing something with the bowling green – and the teams pay them for that.

“But it’s the litter that’s the biggest problem. Volunteers try to pick it up but there’s only so much we can do, and we’re all elderly.”

Barbara Greatorex, treasurer of the Friends of Graves Park, agreed. “They’ve already cut back. They only come and cut the grass a couple of times a year as it is. It’s the same everywhere when you ask anyone involved with parks.

“We have volunteers but there is only so much they can do. Some work requires the professionals.”

Dog walker Helena Baker, who says she has complained to the council about the state of grass in Norfolk Heritage Park, said: “It’s just going to get worse.

“Sheffield’s reputation rests on it being a green city. This is only going to damage it.”

Coun Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure at Sheffield Council, said: “We are halfway through a three-year project that will deliver greater environmental and social benefits from our parks and local green spaces while still saving money.

“This is part of a three- year project that is now in its second year. The project will try to create a balance across the city between formal, traditionally maintained green spaces and more informal naturalistic sites with new pockets of woodland funded by a successful bid to the Forestry Commission.

“These changes however will only happen following consultation. Examples of existing informally managed green spaces are Shirebrook Valley, Manor Fields and parts of the Rivelin Valley.

“This change in management regime gives us an opportunity to have green and open spaces that can provide, for example, a haven for wildlife and biodiversity in a more natural, mixed landscape.

“It is important to note, standards relating to public access and safety will remain, as will the aspiration to bring these sites up to the ‘Sheffield Standard’ for our green and open spaces.”