Mark Camley hails "great opportunity" for parks sector as he prepares to hand over leadership of The Parks Alliance

Mark Camley is to step down as the first chair of The Parks Alliance today after serving more than three years in the role.

Inaugural chair of The Parks Alliance, Mark Camley
Inaugural chair of The Parks Alliance, Mark Camley

Camley, whose day job is executive director of park and venues at the London Legacy Development Corporation, has been leading The Parks Alliance (TPA) since its formation in 2013.

The formation of the Parks Alliance followed two Parks Leadership Round Tables, launched and hosted by Horticulture Week, which brought together sector executives from across the UK to discuss how best to tackle the challenges facing parks.

Camley has nursed TPA from an embryonic organisation to being the clear voice of the sector, so much so that it was asked to give evidence at the first oral evidence session of the current Communities and Local Government Committee parks inquiry. The Alliance was instrumental in encouraging the committee to hold the inquiry - a call launched by Horticulture Week's Make Parks a Priority campaign in 2012. 

"I promised when the Alliance was being formed that I would chair the Alliance for two years, and I am now approaching four years in the role," Camley told Horticulture Week.

"With the second HLF report published and the Select Committee Inquiry underway, there is an opportunity for the sector to make a significant impact – and to do that from a position of strength. Therefore, the time is right for a new leader to take the organisation forward and continue giving the sector a voice."

Tomorrow TPA is due to hold its annual general meeting and board members have been asked to put themselves forward as candidates for the position of chair. The new post holder will be chosen by a vote of the existing board members.

Meanwhile MPs sitting on the CLG Committee have so far held three oral evidence sessions with a fourth due on 5 December. This will see the minister reponsible for parks, Andrew Percy MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for the Northern Power House at the Department for Communities and Local Government, questioned on the issues.

One of the first tasks TPA tackled was to find and meet the then minister responsible for parks, which was not as straightforward as it sounds, since both DCLG and Defra orignally failed to agree where the responsibility lay.

The committee’s report is expected sometime in the New Year. 

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