Government challenged to enter honest talks on future of park funding

A council leader whose borough faces crippling budget cuts has challenged the Government to hold an honest conversation on future funding for parks.

Wirral Borough Council leader Phil Davies said his authority, which represents 320,000 people, some of whom are in the nation's most deprived areas, had to make savings of £100m - one-third of his total budget - over three years. The local authority area has 1,500ha of parks and open spaces.

Davies told the recent UK Public Parks Summit run by the Heritage and Big Lottery Funds: "The elephant in the room is the question of how serious national Government is on any policy at present and in making sure that we have funds to take local services forward.

"We can all agree with localism but without the funding that goes with our responsibilities I'm afraid localism can just be an empty word and tokenism. Wirral must make cuts and ask itself is funding of parks more important than social workers, libraries or holes in the road? Those are the really difficult choices that we are having to make."

Davies added: "The challenge to central Government is let's have an honest conversation about how we can make sure that we have a funding model that allows us to deliver parks and other services in a sustainable way. The sooner we have that discussion, the better."


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