Stoke & Staffordshire

Petition opposing meadow plans for Stoke playing fields

More than 300 people have signed a petition opposing plans to turn playing fields in Meir Park, Stoke-on-Trent, into a wildflower meadow.

The council has decided to stop cutting grass in some city areas to save money and said it was looking at possibly eight to 10 areas for the meadow plans.

The meadows were visually "important", the authority added.

But Meir Park resident Lindsey Carter said children were left to play on streets.

'Big risk'

She added: "We want the children to be able to play safely in open areas.

"The children are not able to play on the fields due to the fact of dog dirt and not knowing what is in the long grass and also the safety element of it, not being able to see them when they go and play across the grass.

"They're left to play on streets which is dangerous because [of] the balls hitting cars, etc, but also fatalities and road accidents are a big risk."

People have expressed fears that such a meadow could encourage fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour and there may be a fire risk.

A consultation is being launched with residents later in the week.

'Not just about cost'

The council's strategic manager for environment, waste and fleet, Carol Gibbs, claimed there were "plenty of other sites where children can play".

But she added: "If it's necessary, we will have a look at where we can change these plans. If there's a specific area we can leave for children to play, then absolutely that's what we will do.

"If we need to litter pick, then absolutely we will litter pick."

Asked if the council was planning to create the meadows because it was cheaper than sending a team out to mow the grass, she said: "It isn't right that it is just because it's cheaper. It's about having a different variety of offer across Stoke-on-Trent.

"Wildflower meadows are visually really important to us. They look beautiful once established. They're important for a range of plants and animals."

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