Laura Sharman 11 July 2016

MPs to examine how best to protect public parks

The impact council budget cuts have had on public parks and open spaces will be considered in a new Government inquiry.

The Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee has launched a public parks inquiry to examine if parks are under threat from funding cuts. It will also explore how new funding and management models could be introduced in the future.

Chair of the CLG Committee Chair, Clive Betts, said: ‘Whether it is kicking the ball about with friends, joining a Parkrun, walking the dog or just relaxing with a book, people value their local parks. But with councils under enormous financial pressures and with no legal obligation to fund and maintain public parks, these precious community resources may be at risk.

‘The Committee will be asking what the future is for our open spaces and we want to explore the ways in which parks can be supported and secured for generations to come. We will be keen to find out about innovative and successful approaches to managing and funding parks and what Government can do to support these.’

The inquiry will also consider the contribution parks make to the health and well-being of local communities, how councils can generate income from park users, and how new and existing parks can best be supported.

Merrick Denton-Thompson, president of the Landscape Institute, said: ‘Quality green infrastructure helps society tackle a range of other critical issues from species loss, to social cohesion and climate-change mitigation and adaptation. These issues are more acute than ever, but continuing budget cuts over many years and changes in planning policy have meant the downgrading of the requirement to put in place quality landscape for green spaces and parks. Quality is being eroded.

‘All new developments should consider the need for new green infrastructure and improvements to existing spaces with adequate consideration to its maintenance and management. Today many local authority planners and green space officers will tell you that this is not a priority in their borough. We should be smarter with our resources, recognising that capital expenditure should go hand in hand with provision for revenue expenditure.’

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