Save Public Parks Campaign- report published

The HLF issues its 2nd report on the state of Public Parks and Civic Voice encourages all Civic Societies to join the campaign to “Save our Parks”.

Richard Morrison’s article in the Arts column of The Times on Friday on 5th August  was headlined “We have one chance in a generation to save our public parks”.   Richard highlighted that in the “hurly burly” following Brexit a group of MPs took a momentous decision to set up an inquiry into the state of public parks.

Update 12 February 2017

The Parliamentary Inquiry published its report on 7 February 2017.  This may be reached via the link HERE

The conclusions and recommendations may be reached HERE and a summary is HERE

There is no immediate solution to the funding crisis and the suggestion that the provision and maintenance of parks becomes a Statutory Service was not accepted as it was seen to be complicated and burdensome.

The government now has two months to respond. 

Update December 2016

More than 13,000 people who responded to our parks survey. The inquiry has now published a summary of the results.

In addition to the survey, the inquiry has:

– Received nearly 900 tweets on  #myparkmatters hashtag;

– Collected almost 400 written evidence submissions;

– Visited Newcastle to see for ourselves some of the challenges and issues facing the parks sector;

– Held three oral evidence sessions with parks experts and park users, local authorities and planning policy experts, and innovative parks projects and models.

– The final oral evidence session on Monday 5 December, will be with Andrew Percy MP, the Department for Communities and Local Government Minister with responsibility for parks. The meeting was broadcast live on www.parliamentlive.tv, is available on the Parks Inquiry website.

After the final oral evidence session all of the evidence received was considered. It was aimed in the new year to publish a report setting out their conclusions and making recommendations to the Government. 

Background

The Parliamentary Inquiry, launched on 11 July by the Communities and Local Government Committee, will “look at how parks should be supported now and in the future” including ” alternative management and funding models”.   

The Communities and Local Government Committee website for this enquiry is Inquiry into Public Parks launched

The article noted that whilst significant improvements have been made to public parks via the Heritage Lottery Fund such support does not include maintenance.   It also highlighted that local authorities everywhere have drastically had to cut all budgets, including that for parks.   A 2013  HLF report found that a fifth of councils planned to sell off parks, usually for house building.  Liverpool and Newcastle councils have warned that within two years they will not be able to fund any non- statutory services, including parks.  The article pondered whether any towns and cities would be prepared to follow Glasgow’s move, in August 2016, to give 27 of its parks a special status which means they cannot be sold or built on without consent of the open-spaces watchdog;  Fields In Trust

The Heritage Lottery Fund in September 2016 released the 2nd report into the State of Public Parks.  It reports that :

that there is a growing deficit between the rising use of parks and the declining resources that are available to manage them. Based on four surveys of park managers, independent park trusts, park friends and user groups, and the general public, the findings show that while parks are highly valued by the public and usage is increasing, park maintenance budgets and staffing levels are being cut.

Without urgent action the continuing downward trend in the condition of many of our most treasured parks and green spaces is set to continue.  Whilst new ways of working and generating income are showing potential, more support, shared learning and collaboration is needed to support those that manage public parks.  Therefore, this research calls for collaborative action to deliver new ways of funding and managing public parks to avert a crisis.

The report may be accessed; HLF State of Public Parks 2016.

EVERYONE had the opportunity to make a contribution to the Public Inquiry by 30 September.

 The Get Involved section of the launch information says:-

The Committee wants to encourage as many people as possible to contribute to the inquiry. In addition to a face-to-face survey in parks across the country, the Committee is organising an online survey, web forums and a Twitter hashtag, #myparkmatters, where people can let the Committee know why they value their local parks.

The Committee will also be working with the House of Commons Education Service’s network of Teacher Ambassadors to engage with children and young people. The 75 Teacher Ambassadors, representing schools from across the country, will be asked to encourage their classes to think about what their local parks mean to them and their communities, and to share their views with the Committee.

The details of the inquiry, and how to comment, may be seen: Details of the Inquiry into Public Parks

The Whitley Pump has joined this campaign. They provide details from a Reading perspective on their website here; The Whitley Pump

Civic Voice, the national Charity for the civic movement, is supporting Reading Civic Society’s campaign. It has posted details onto its website and its newsletter and is asking all Civic Societies to engage their members.  Civic Voice supports the campaign