Park cutbacks will save Stoke-on-Trent City Council £110K
GRASS-CUTTING and litter-picking at public parks is to be scaled back as part of council cuts – with voluntary groups being asked to help offset the changes.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council wants to slash £110,000 from its budget for grass-cutting from April as part of £21 million savings.
The Sentinel reported in December how acres of public green space will be allowed to become 'wildlife meadow' under the latest cuts.
Now it has emerged that parks like Northwood, Cobridge and Etruria will be cut only once a month instead of every three weeks. Services like strimming and litter picking will also be reduced.
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The council said its major 'strategic parks' – including Central Forest Park, Burslem Park and Westport Park – will be unaffected.
But neighbourhood parks, fields and closed churchyards are all included, with residents encouraged to form 'friends of' groups which can bid for charitable support.
The authority will also refuse to cut grass on unadopted housing estates and business parks which it has been mowing as a 'goodwill gesture' for several years to help improve the city's appearance.
Councillor Andy Platt, cabinet member for green enterprises and clean city, said: "Rather than just leaving the land we will have a proper naturalisation programme – working with Staffordshire Wildlife Trust – which I think is very positive.
"We have been cutting grass that should not be our responsibility. In some cases we may be trespassing to cut their grass.
"There are sites where developers should be doing it because it is unadopted land and we've been doing it as a goodwill gesture.
"That is wrong. The people of this city should not be mowing developers' land.
"We've been maintaining grass at Trentham Lakes, for example. That's a case where it may have been nice when we had the money to do it but it's not the real world.
"Either they do it or they pay us to do it. It is their responsibility. There will be no more freeloading by developers."
Etruria Residents' Association, David Martin, aged 62, from Mere Side Close, who is also involved with Friends of Etruria Park, said: "If they do it once a month it will be fine, but any less than that and it will ruin it.
"The children won't be able to play football or cricket and they use it a lot. It's the only place they have got to go on that side of the village.
"For litter picking, perhaps the council could get community payback teams to do it."
Richard Talbot, aged 67, of Newcastle Lane, Penkhull – chairman of The Friends of Bakewell Street Park Trust, in Penkhull – said: "Knowing this council, I'm not surprised at what they are doing.
"Parks are an integral part of community life, without such, society suffers. And it is suffering."