Parks lobby group seeks meeting with minister

The Parks Alliance is lobbying to meet minister for local government Marcus Jones MP, whose remit includes parks, and has invited him to attend Saltex in November.

Alliance deputy chair Sue Ireland spoke at the Association for Public Service Excellence Parks & Open Spaces seminar on 1 October and updated parks professionals on the latest work of the parks lobby group.

Ireland said the alliance is working on a paper on the value of parks for children's health, which should be ready in time for Saltex, and together with the National Trust is urging MP Clive Betts, chair of the communities and local government committee, to launch an enquiry into the future of urban parks and green space.

The alliance is also seeking legal advice on how to establish a not-for-profit membership organisation following the awarding of a £9,600 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in September. The new project, Creating A National Voice for Parks, would allow the alliance to represent all those who use or are involved in parks across the UK.

Business manager Rob Pearce of the Landscape Group told Horticulture Week that the money would help the group buy in expertise to engage and work with everyone who shares its vision, as well as set up an inclusive structure and governance and be sustainable. "We will be using the funding to get expert knowledge around how membership schemes work and which is the best one for the 21st century, as well as getting technical advice around social media and working out how to organise ourselves more formally," he said.

Membership could fall under three categories - large organisations in the private or public sector, individual professionals who work in the sector and others who care about parks, whether individual volunteers or friends groups.

The alliance also wants to investigate how it can interact with its members on electronic platforms such as social media, said Pearce. "How can we reach out most effectively and efficiently to give them a voice?" The Parks Alliance is still considering what sort of role it would take - facilitator or thought leader - he added.

"We need to carefully think about what our members want and whether we can satisfy those needs," said Pearce. "We don't want to declare a huge ambition and not be able to fulfil it. We want to set up a solid organisation."

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