Parks Alliance deputy chairman calls for action as next Parliament spending cuts become clear

By Sarah Cosgrove Friday, 21 March 2014

The deputy chairman of the Parks Alliance has called on the industry "to be more proactive" after future public sector spending cuts of up to a 35 per cent were outlined in the Budget.

On Wednesday the Chancellor George Osborne made it clear that the level of cuts seen in this Parliament would continue into the next, with an overall reduction in Government spending of £2bn each year from 2016-17.

Influential think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies has estimated that this will mean that departments which are not protected – everything except NHS, schools and aid – will need to make cuts of 35.6 per cent up until 2018/19.

Deputy chairman Bob Ivison said the Parks Alliance was looking at finding models for ongoing maintenance and management of green spaces, working with trusts to see if they are appropriate and giving advice to local authorities and local communities to see how they can best manage their green spaces.

"There’s no way that local authorities can continue to provide the same services in the same way with a reduced amount of money," he said. "There’s continued pressure on local authorities and the forecasts in the figures show it’s going to get worse. We as an industry need to be more proactive and it needs to be done very quickly."

Ivison said the Budget had no focus on community well-being at all and with giveaways on alcohol and bingo giving out unhelpful messages on health.

"There was no suggestion that the Government was looking at improving people’s quality of life and health and well being," he said.

But Ivison said the budget also threw up opportunities, the extra £140 million pledged for flood defence repair, for example. He said the devastation of the floods showed our landscape needs to be looked at more closely and parks were part of the solution.

"As an industry we need to get involved and see how we can use the changes to our advantage. We need to look at how we are engaging with the wider authorities and the Environment Agency," he said."

Ivison said he thought the announcement to build a new garden city at Ebbsfleet in Kent, with plans for more due to be released next month, gave "a great opportunity to really show what we can do in terms of landscape design and green infrastructure."

Tax breaks for social enterprises could also help with running parks, he added.


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