The new minister for parks has been confirmed – but there is mention of the role on the new minister's official biography.
Jake Berry took over former parks minister Andrew Percy’s role as minister for the Northern Powerhouse, but he did not get the parks’ job, it has emerged.
MP for Nuneaton and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Local Government) Marcus Jones takes over the parks and green spaces brief from Percy. Parks are not listed as one of his responsibilities on the government website but a Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) spokeswoman confirmed to Horticulture Week that Jones was in charge.
Jones has been an MP since 2010, following several years as a local councillor, including as leader of Bedworth Borough Council. He has been a junior minister at the DCLG since May 2015. Before that he served as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
He has a number of other hefty responsibilities including local government policy, local government finances, adult social care, welfare reform and homelessness.
Parks professionals have complained for years of a lack of representation for parks at a national level. The Parks Alliance made finding out exactly which minister was responsible for parks one of its first priorities. Former parks minister Andrew Percy was the first to have parks and green spaces listed on the biography which appears on the website. He also pledged to establish a cross-departmental group to examine the findings of the Communities and Local Government Committee’s parks inquiry during the inquiry hearing when he gave evidence.
However he resigned and returned to the back benches after the snap election.
A number of inquiry witnesses called for a cross-departmental approach to parks, as they provide a range of benefits which stretch beyond the remit of the DCLG, including environmental, physical and mental health and crime reduction.