Sheffield communities could soon have control over small green spaces

A councillor who campaigned to give residents power to manage grass verges and small green spaces on their streets said it could soon become policy.

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 12:24 pm

Councillor Barbara Masters, Liberal Democrat representative for Ecclesall ward, said Coun Mark Jones, then cabinet member for environment, agreed earlier this year to a stand-alone policy to allow this and that the council was set to run trials before the shake-up in leadership at the local elections.

She said there was due to be a trial on a section next to the highway in her area which would hopefully be matched with another trial elsewhere in the city.

Talking about the policy, Coun Masters said: “Who wasn’t cheered by the sight of spring flowers appearing at the start of lockdown?

Open spaces.

“There has been a wonderful succession of colour and we’ve seen them because the lockdown has delayed the normal grass cutting of our verges.

“If we want to see more of this instead of [plain, cut grass] you can do something about it.

“Young people people tell me they want the council to do more to support wildlife and protect the natural environment.

“If we are prepared to manage and maintain more of our verges then wildflowers, and the insects dependant on them, will thrive.

“And if you and friends or neighbours are prepared to give up a bit of time through the year it can happen.”

She said the policy was necessary as there are factors including cabling, utilities infrastructure under the surface, accountability so the council can be sure areas will not be neglected or used inappropriately, legal and highway issues and public liability insurance that need to be taken into account.

“Residents also should be able to choose what they want for their area, which here is a special Sheffield wildflower mix to encourage wildlife,” said Coun Masters. “Elsewhere residents will want something different. It would be fascinating to see how the planting changes along bus routes. All we have been waiting for is the final legal hurdle to be cleared.”

She added that hopefully the change in council leadership will still allow the policy to go ahead as most of the work is already done.