More funds worries for parks managers

Whether or not you agree that councils hit by the sinking of Landsbanki and Glitnir banks were foolhardy to continue to invest in them after their shares were downgraded by ratings agencies - or that they were simply badly advised - the real worry is that the potential impact on council service provision of this latest chapter in the financial crisis may be the tip of the iceberg.

The concern now among parks specialists is that the Government's unprecedented payments to shore up UK banks may be paid for, at least in part, by a squeeze on public expenditure (news, p3). If the rate support grant to local authorities is cut, green space leaders fear that, as usual, parks will be the first to suffer because of their non-statutory status.

Figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) reported in The Times earlier this week show that taken together, the nationalisation of Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley, and now the £50bn bank recapitalisation plan, could push the Government's debt to 50 per cent of national income - its highest for 30 years and, as the IFS points out, well above the 40 per cent ceiling Gordon Brown set himself when he was chancellor.

It is difficult to calculate the long-term cost of the extra debt, as it includes emergency measures the Treasury hopes to reverse. But the problem is that these measures have come at a time when the underlying health of public finances is poor and, most recently, exacerbated by factors such as a sharp fall in stamp-duty revenues caused by the housing crisis. Green space managers who have had to become adept at finding new ways to fund projects will once again need to bring out their most creative thinking.

Voice your concerns over EU pesticide proposals

With a crucial vote on the EU's controversial pesticide proposals due at the European Parliament's environment committee in the first week of November, industry bodies are calling for horticulture professionals to write now to the members of the committee with their concerns (news, p8). The message is simple - to reject the stricter amendments being debated and that an EU-wide impact assessment must be carried out before proposals become law.

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