Baroness Andrews tipped to move

Rumours are strong that the parks minister may move roles after the May local elections.

Several sources close to the ODPM have told Horticulture Week they believe parks minister Andrews will move jobs after the local government elections on 4 May. Her successor would be the seventh parks minister in six years, since the Urban White Paper, published in November 2000, set up the parks role. Chief executive Paul Bramhill of parks charity GreenSpace said: “I don’t know where Baroness Andrews is destined for. “It will be interesting to see how long she will be in the post. People think she is [about to go]. No one has been in the post long enough to get their feet under the table.” He added that the minister had not sought to meet his organisation — but neither has GreenSpace tried to meet her. He said the job of parks minister was a stepping-stone for younger ministers while civil servants effectively set parks policy. Parks Agency director Dr Stewart Harding said: “For the parks sector, it’s an indication of how unsupportive the Government is in these areas. They talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. “The parks sector needs a high-profile minister to be there for some time and make a difference. There’s a feeling that this is a temporary post.” Parks consultant Alan Barber said: “[A change] would be par for the course. The turnover of ‘regeneration ministers’ is so rapid that you wonder whether they have misunderstood the term. Dr Who can’t keep up with them. “It is a disgracefully cynical way of governing a country, but then so is using an unfair voting system to allow minorities to form a majority, and suppressing local government. It is bad for the country, let alone the sector.” The ODPM said only Downing Street could comment. Downing Street said it never comments on such matters.

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