Look after your own parks first, Rotherham Council is told

Artist's impression of the new cafe at Thrybergh Country ParkArtist's impression of the new cafe at Thrybergh Country Park
Artist's impression of the new cafe at Thrybergh Country Park
ROTHERHAM Council has been encouraged to fund its own leisure facilities before approving cash for other organisations.

Levelling Up money was secured from the government for Thrybergh and Rother Valley country parks, Gulliver’s Valley, Wentworth Woodhouse, Maltby Grammar School and Magna.

Inflationary pressures have led to the projects being scaled back for RMBC-owned country park projects, with no car park improvements and Thrybergh or “village centre” at Rother Valley.

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This has also set back the intention to improve the children’s play areas at both beauty spots.

But the council has found capital funds to shore up external projects – approving £500,000 for Wentworth Woodhouse, £300,000 for Gulliver’s and £550,000 for Maltby.

Cllr Michael Bennett-Sylvester said: “At the cabinet meeting where the plans for Thrybergh were put through, under a different agenda item we were approving capital funding for Gulliver’s, which is a private business, and Wentworth Woodhouse, again a non-council-owned property.

“In an ideal world, we would be funding everything, but choices have to be made.

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“Shouldn’t we surely be looking after our own leisure facilities first and making sure they’ve got adequate capital funding, before we move to assist other ventures, especially when they are private businesses.”

Cllr David Sheppard, RMBC’s cabinet member for social inclusion, said: “With the Levelling Up bids, while we were very happy that we secured the money from central government, there’s only so much we can do with them.

“Sadly, we have had hundreds of millions stripped from our budget.

“While we are keen to get as much investment in as we can, and will always work to ensure our facilities are at the best they possibly can be for our residents, we have been working within very constrained times for the last 13 years.”

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Meanwhile, the cost of the delayed pocket park on Rotherham’s High Street has risen from £1 million to £1.92 million.

Opposition leader Cllr Simon Ball suggested the money would have been better spent on existing sites, like Coronation Park, which are in “awful” states.

He added: “Why start another park when we have got parks that are in absolutely derelict conditions?”

Cllr Denise Lelliott, cabinet member for jobs and the local economy, said consultation between 2019 and 2022 had consistently demonstrated the desire for more green and open spaces.