Leader: Competing for cash is name of the game

As London mayor Boris Johnson handed out £6m to the winners of his Priority Parks competition almost a year ago today, we noted that the event highlighted how well many parks departments and their leaders had geared up for a future where, regrettably, almost every bit of funding would have to be fought over.

Ironically, because green space teams have been forced to rely on competing for cash from schemes such as the Heritage Lottery Fund for so long, they could find themselves better skilled than some of their local authority colleagues at competitions to come.

As we report on page 12, a similar point was made last week by Halton Borough Council's open space services manager Paul Wright at the Apse conference. "Many other service managers in our authority are very nervous because they have never been exposed to the competitive elements we have - and they are at a loss to defend themselves," said Wright, who described how a programme of profile raising with park users and elected members - as well as use of performance data - have recently helped to reduce the impact of threatened budget cuts.

One alternative source of funding that green space managers should be readying their battle-scarred funding skills for is the Community Infrastructure Levy, which comes into force next week (page 3). The optional levy, which allows local authorities to raise a charge on new developments from developers for community purposes and could raise as much as £700m a year for councils by 2016, has been highlighted by the Environmental Audit Committee this week as a source of funding for climate change adaptation measures - including spending on parks.

- Over the past 18 months, a number of key research documents, case studies and other materials have been produced that help the case for green space funds. To help green space managers keep on top of this latest research, today we have launched a green space resource section on our website where we will gather all the very best materials - or links to them - in one handy place. To see what is available so far, go to www.hortweek.com/go/GreenSpaceResource/

- Kate Lowe, editor. Email: kate.lowe@haymarket.com

www.HorticultureWeek.co.uk/leader for recent leaders.


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