Following the long run of hot weather and the ease in lockdown restrictions, Sheffield’s parks have seen a huge increase in visitor numbers, and unfortunately with it, a huge increase in litter.
With new restrictions allowing groups of up to six, from different households, to meet outdoors, and after temperatures soared last weekend thousands of local people flocked to enjoy time in Sheffield’s many beautiful green open spaces.
Although most residents take pride in the city’s parks and respect the natural environment, many also abused Sheffield’s green havens, leaving bags of rubbish, litter, bottles & cans, food waste and even scorching grass from the use of barbeques.
During the last couple of weeks teams from Sheffield City Council’s parks & countryside service and it’s Streets Ahead contractor, Amey, have been working hard to keep Sheffield’s green spaces clean and safe for everyone to use.
Volunteers and members of the public have also been doing their bit to restore parks to their natural beauty.
Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure at Sheffield City Council said: “Our many parks are one of Sheffield’s unique and great features, and during lockdown have provided our residents with a place to relax, take exercise, clear their minds and breathe in the fresh air.
“I know it’s been a blessing for many that restrictions have eased and groups are being allowed to meet outdoors and we want people to enjoy our natural surroundings. But it cannot come at the cost of our green spaces being ruined.
“We want local people to make the most of our parks but we must insist that everyone shows respect and cleans up after themselves. The scenes I saw after the weekend were unacceptable. It’s simple, if you can carry stuff to the park, you can take it away.
“Our teams have tripled their efforts and been working extremely hard to clear up other people’s mess, which frankly should not be necessary. I know that a lot of local people have also been voluntarily doing their bit to help, we are very grateful for this but must stress that their safety comes first. We don’t want anyone putting themselves at risk because others are being inconsiderate.
“I ask, please, for everyone’s sake don’t spoil our parks, let’s make sure we can all enjoy them.”
The council is emptying bins in most parks daily, with busy sites such as Endcliffe being attended several times per day.
Daily litter picking is being carried out, with additional staff working evenings and weekends to help cope with the volume of waste, with around a third of staff time being spent removing rubbish. Amey are also providing extra support as required.
Additional large capacity bins and recycling bins are being placed at busy park locations.
Responding to complaints, two pickup loads of rubbish per day were removed out of Endcliffe Park alone, by staff whose main role should be gardening.
Litter enforcement officers are patrolling some parks where issues are highest, and South Yorkshire Police are visiting key sites to help maintain social distancing and address antisocial behaviour.
After images were shared on social media many local people responded with anger and disappointment to the lack of care and pride shown by some in their own parks.
Cllr Lea added: “The images speak for themselves, it’s shameful. But, while the mess left behind is upsetting, I want to remind people that this is a minority and I know that most Sheffielders are very proud and do act responsibly. Our parks are visited by thousands of people and I want to thank all those who do treat our green spaces with the care and respect they deserve.
“If you see any issues please report them so that we can deal with them as quickly as possible.”