How are you coping after the spending review?

We asked parks and public-realm leaders at a recent GreenSpace conference.

"We are just about to get our budget settlement from the Welsh assembly and are in the process of approaching the issue of voluntary severance for staff.

"We faced change in 1989-90 with compulsory competitive tendering and didn't get over it until 2000. 'Big Society' has been with us for 20 years, with community groups, but 'Big Society' expects them to do everything, which is worrying.

"On a positive note, we are looking at making current structures more efficient, bringing people forward earlier than anticipated and multi-skilling."

Peter Hamblin, ground maintenance manager, Cardiff County Council

- "This is when strong community involvement in parks pays off. We have done so much advocacy in the community that we know that if standards dropped our community would batter the elected members.

"The cuts re-emphasise that this is all about change, but we've never been out of change in local authority. If you're open to change and positive you can gain something from it.

"A big reassurance is that Manchester has a no-redundancies policy. Managers are asking people to be flexible about their work roles. We appreciate our jobs won't stay the same, but there is a job for us."

Kylie Ward, area manager, Manchester City Council

- "Right now, things are looking fairly good. We do management plans, help with green space strategies, put together Heritage Lottery Fund bids and look at other funding issues for local authorities.

"The spending cuts suggest there will be more opportunities to help local authorities to source finding. In tough times like this you have to eke out positives wherever you are in parks and green spaces.

"The great thing is that what we have here is held in very high regard, so we have to make sure that the users' voices are heard as much as those voices at the top."

Jon Collins, landscape manager, Land Management Services

- "We are redoubling efforts to raise money. Our forum has raised £2.5m over the past five years and could knock that up to £3m or £4m.

"Virtually every park in Stockport is a heritage park and the forum has 74 members, so we have not only hugely popular green spaces but strong advocacy. Strong support is going to be vital as the cuts start to bite, but we need more friends groups for the little parks, which will surfer otherwise.

"Two of our parks have taken the asset transfer route through lack of money, but there's only so much a park can do to generate money."

Christine Hession, secretary, Stockport Greenspace Forum.


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