Hillsborough Park. Photo: Gregory Deryckere/CC
Hillsborough Park. Photo: Gregory Deryckere/CC

Liam Ball, Sheffield South East Socialist Party

Sheffield City Council is privatising the city’s parks. But a community group, led by members of the Socialist Party, is having none of it.

‘Save Our Parks’ is committed to fighting the council’s decision to sign away chunks of public land to private sports companies on a 25-year lease. The council is run by a coalition of Labour, Liberal Democrats, and Greens.

In the past two months, Save Our Parks’ public consultations have dwarfed the council’s. We have called two lively public meetings, with around 25 members of the community in attendance each time, including local press.

We have surveyed attendees of Hillsborough Park Run. They knew nothing of the council’s shady plans, and all immediately took positions against it when made aware.

And we have held a demonstration at Hillsborough Park, demarcating the loss to public land, which was attended by 25. The demonstration was again attended by media, including BBC Look North and the Sheffield Star, who published an interview with Sheffield South East Socialist Party member Leah Byatt.

Save Our Parks agrees that improvements are necessary. But this won’t come from the council’s undemocratic decision to lease free-to-use land to private profiteers. The public should have an actual democratic say over their desires for local parks, coming up with an alternative plan for Hillsborough Park.

Leah Byatt is standing in Hillsborough ward for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in the 2 May council elections to offer an alternative. I am is standing in Graves Park, with 28 TUSC candidates across Sheffield – so far one in every multimember ward.

Can you stand too?