Laura Sharman 06 April 2020

Councils urged to keep parks open where possible

Councils have been told not to close parks unless it is impossible to maintain social distancing in them.

The call has come after councils were forced to shut down parks this weekend as people flouted rules to stay at home.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, communities secretary Robert Jenrick said councils should be 'very judicious' when making the decision to close parks.

Lambeth Council was forced to temporarily shut Brockwell Park this weekend after more than 3,000 visited it.

A Lambeth Council spokesperson said: 'Despite clear advice, more than 3,000 people visited Brockwell Park on Saturday, with some visitors sunbathing and congregating in large groups. This is unacceptable at this time.'

In response, cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, chair of the LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: 'This is a national emergency and the minority of people who do not adhere to the guidance need to change their behaviour to keep us all safe. Councils are constantly monitoring the situation regarding our parks.

'Councils know that parks are a lifeline for residents needing to get some exercise or fresh air and are great for physical and mental wellbeing.

'This is why councils want to keep parks open, but people need to follow the social distancing advice, otherwise councils will be reluctantly forced to close them as a last resort to help prevent the coronavirus spreading.'

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