A great opportunity for parks

It is with considerable satisfaction that in this edition of Horticulture Week we celebrate two great moments for parks and gardens professionals in which we are proud to have played a significant part.

The first came last week from the chair of the Communities & Local Government Select Committee, Clive Betts MP, who announced the launch of the long-hoped-for inquiry into the funding of England's public parks. It is almost four years ago to the day that HW launched the Make Parks a Priority campaign calling for a parks inquiry - in response to the growing threat to public parks and gardens from heavy local authority cuts to their maintenance funds.

The campaign led directly to the creation of the cross-sector Parks Alliance, which has continued to lobby for a better future for our vital green spaces through a variety of measures including an inquiry, with our wholehearted support. The focus now must be to ensure the vital experience and deep local knowledge of the nation's parks professionals is shared with the select committee, which is inviting submissions until 30 September. As David Lambert, an adviser to the 1999 inquiry, tells us, detailed local illustrations of the impact of maintenance cuts will hit home.

The second great moment for the parks and gardens sector was the presentation on 30 June of the inaugural winners of the Horticulture Week Custodian Awards, hosted by City of London parks chief Sue Ireland. In this issue we include a special celebration of the winners, whose achievements say so much about the commitment, resilience and brio of its professionals.

Frequently operating in the face of great challenges, our winners pay testament to the can-do problem-solving approach of the highly-skilled professionals in our sector - qualities the select committee would do well to engage.

- kate.lowe@haymarket.com

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