Thursday, 27 November 2014

"The future of parks is in the hands of partnerships"... and... "People in the South West need to be prepared to fight to preserve their parks and green areas, to save them from the threat of sell-offs or neglect."

The Friends of the Byes is an excellent example of how local people can literally shape the local landscape:
Friends of The Byes / Sidmouth BEE Project | Facebook

Such groups are being more and more relied upon by local authorities facing budget squeezes:

Future of parks is in the hands of partnerships

glendale (new)The company has witnessed a decline in spend on parks due to government cuts which has led to an average 15 per cent reduction in funding for green spaces.
In addition a report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), the National Trust and the RSPB supported by other environmental bodies and organisations claims there’ll be little or no funding available for public parks by 2020.
Terry Doyle, Glendale’s South West and South Walesregional director said: “There is a worrying downward trend in expenditure on parks and green spaces but this can be reversed by having a more commercial approach to the maintenance, use and management of parks.
“Volunteer groups, community interest groups and trustsare also going to be critical in managing parks as they canalso tap into alternative sources of funding and help alleviate pressure on local authorities that are already having to juggle scarce resources.
“Whenever I meet with parks managers who carry out their maintenance in-house I’m aware that trust, reduced standards and loss of control are the main factors behind not market testing their service provision. Better specifications and contract arrangements can ensure that, with the right service provider all these concerns can be addressed and protected against whilst savings can be achieved through economies of scale and innovation.
Terry Doyle“Additionally those involved in the management of green spaces should also look at adopting ‘spend to save’ plans and where relevant, perhaps join other local authorities in a buying group when outsourcing services as economies of scale can be reached through the merging of overheads and better utilisation of large-scale equipment.
“To really address this issue more needs to be done to consult with park users and ask them what’s important to them. It’s what most companies do when providing a product or service. Most local authorities are looking at parks and how they can generate income from what is in place and are doing that well through staging festivals or large scale events.
“Communities are passionate about their local green space and really care about the maintenance standards and activities available in them. The public will contribute, both in money and kind, to the upkeep and improvements in parks and we’re now seeing innovation along these lines across the whole of the UK.
“Combining management of parks with communities, volunteers and charities does require a change in the way parks managers work and through embracing specialist service providers in the maintenance of parks this would free up valuable client officer time to invest in relationships and working arrangements needed to reduce costs.
“Fundamentally if people are asked what they want from their parks and green spaces, are given what they want and get involved – parks will be greater utilised and remain higher up on the political agenda.”
Future of parks is in the hands of partnerships – Glendale South West

The Western Morning News carried the piece - together with a warning from the CPRE:

People power is needed to safeguard Westcountry parks

By Western Morning News | Posted: November 16, 2014

By Mike Bramhall

People in the South West need to be prepared to fight to preserve their parks and green areas, to save them from the threat of sell-offs or neglect.

Meanwhile, construction firms seeking to build new homes across the region must be aware of the need to provide adequate open spaces, where fledgling communities can develop a sense of social cohesion.

That was the message from campaigners and civic guardians in the wake of a new report which called for the public to be more involved in the future of parks. Produced by national green services provider Glendale, the report said government cuts had led to an average 15 per cent reduction in the funding for green spaces.

It echoed the findings of another report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, which warned that national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are under increasing threat from development and government funding cuts.

Terry Doyle, Glendale’s South West and South Wales regional director, said: “There is worrying downward trend in expenditure on parks and green spaces. Volunteer groups, community interest groups and trust are going to be critical in managing parks as they can also tap into alternative sources of funding, and help alleviate pressure on local authorities that are already having to juggle scarce resources.”

Mike Gallagher, chairman of the Friends of Devonport Park in Plymouth, said public involvement was vital in safeguarding the future of existing parks and green spaces, particularly in the Westcountry’s cities. He said: “Ten or 15 years ago, Devonport Park was a place where people would not go – it was so overgrown.”

The green space, which dates back to 1858 and is the oldest formal public park in Plymouth, was transformed thanks to the efforts of the Friends, which launched as a voluntary community group and is now a registered charity. The group helped secure a £5.2 million scheme, which was funded by the city council, the Devonport Regeneration Community Partnership and the Heritage/BIG Lottery Funds.

Mr Gallagher said: “The park would not have been restored without public involvement. The council pulled it together and have been brilliant, but they needed community support to get lottery grants to do the work. People have to fight to keep spaces such as this. If a community values its green spaces, it needs to get together and do something about it.” Greens spaces are the lungs of a city – people need somewhere to go to relax. There are so many health benefits to having them and keeping them.”

Keith Lewis, chairman of Exeter Civic Society, said: “We are well blessed in Exeter. We have quite a few parks and valley parks. But for some of the new developments, coming on line, the quality and extent of the green spaces they have are quite small.

“We are not getting the large green spaces which are really good for community cohesion and allow people to come together – that’s a shame. Newcourt has a new community park which should enable that community to develop. But I’m not sure that is happening in every area.”

parks green space | Western Morning News

In which case, concerns about the green spaces in Sidmouth might be well-founded:
Sidmouth’s need for open spaces: New study challenges crucial part of EDDC’s planning application for Knowle | Save Our Sidmouth
Futures Forum: Knowle: the Byes and when a 'meadow' is a 'park'...
Futures Forum: Knowle: the Byes and when a 'meadow' is a 'park': part two

With thanks to:
West Country parks under threat from developers | East Devon Alliance

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