Campaigners say their plight to light up Sheffield parks will carry on, despite the council rejecting their petitions.
‘Our Bodies Our Streets’ organisation says they still hope to work alongside the council despite rejections for improved lighting throughout Sheffield’s parks.
The lighting petition was started by Sheffield University Student Evie Hairsine in collaboration with the organisation and now has almost 4000 signatures. It was created a month ago after many people said they felt unsafe in the parks after dark.
Ms Hairsine,19, who begun running in Endcliffe Park during the first national lockdown to avoid catcalling on the roads, says it’s more pertinent than ever now: “I understand that putting lots of lights in every park isn’t affordable but there might be other ways people can be made to feel safer. I feel really unsafe using Sheffield’s parks after dark and never do so on my own”.
Sheffield council insisted that lighting does not guarantee residents safety as they blamed their limited funding for the decision.
Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, parks and leisure at Sheffield council said: “We work very hard to make our parks as accessible and user friendly as possible but unfortunately there are limits to what we can do with the funding available to us. Installation of lighting and the ongoing maintenance required is very costly and with more than 800 green spaces across the city, prioritising this would be extremely difficult”.
In response to the council, OBOS said: “We haven’t yet met with the council and we want to work alongside them to devise a way for improving people’s feeling of safety in the park whether through lighting or other interventions”.
A statement from OBOS said: “We understand they face several financial constraints and we will be consulting the community in an open meeting to see how they want to take this forward”.
Ms Lea offered advice to residents: “I understand people’s concerns and I encourage anyone to keep themselves safe by going out in pairs, even in well-lit areas, as lighting gives no guarantee of personal safety”.