Darren Share aims to knit parks with allied operations

One of the biggest names in parks and open spaces in the Midlands has changed jobs and is looking to knit parks services more closely together with operations such as waste and street cleansing.

Share: left his position as head of parks in Birmingham - image: HW
Share: left his position as head of parks in Birmingham - image: HW

Birmingham City Council head of parks Darren Share left his job following May's RHS Chelsea Flower Show after successfully applying to become assistant director for waste management at the local authority.

His parks deputy, customer liaison and constituency parks manager Robin Bryan, has become head of the department. Both are former horticultural apprentices at the council.

"There are great service connections and a real drive in the city focused around cleaner streets, using the Britain in Bloom ethos to work with communities," said Share. "We hope to co-ordinate parks, housing and all the other council departments under a cleaner streets campaign. I thought that was a real opportunity."

Share said he will still be responsible for RHS Chelsea Flower Show entries and will continue to chair Birmingham in Bloom projects. "But under the cleaner streets banner there's a close relationship with parks," he pointed out.

He added that Bryan, who used to tackle customer liaison and events, is an experienced horticulturist who has been with the authority for around 40 years.

Share said parks and streets will remain separate entities. "I'm not keen on trying to move horticulture into street cleansing because I don't think that's the right way to do it. But co-ordination of roles and activities is important and we can improve that by coming closer together, for example in making grounds upkeep and street cleaning teams work more seamlessly."

He added: "We can look at efficiencies in dealing with waste. Presently the grounds team deals with fly-tipping in parks but it might make more sense for street teams to deal with that and enforcement issues."

Consultation is ongoing on the future of several playgrounds, added Share. "There are more questions than activity right now. There is pressure but we are looking at every option".

He insisted that there is "no real direct pressure" to make job cuts among the 300-strong parks team, although six staff have asked for voluntary redundancy, which the council is considering.

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