Parks sector suffers setback as minister Andrew Percy quits

Parks minister Andrew Percy has left the Government, putting back progress on the parks agenda yet again.

Percy promised to champion parks across departments. Image: ParliamentLive.TV
Percy promised to champion parks across departments. Image: ParliamentLive.TV

MP for Rossendale and Darwen Jake Berry has replaced Percy as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and as the Northern Powerhouse minister but his further responsibilities have not yet been named.  

Percy had been asked to return to his old job by Prime Minister Theresa May following the general election and her move to form a minority government with the aid of DUP votes.

However, he announced his resignation on his Instagram and Facebook accounts on Wednesday afternoon.

He wrote: "Was a privilege to be asked to continue serving in my role in Government as a Minister, but I have reluctantly decided to step down and leave the Government.

"I thank the Prime Minister for offering me this role again but I have decided to pursue other challenges. She continues to enjoy my full support from the back benches."

Percy had raised hopes in the parks sector when he 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.

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.

In its inquiry report the committe made several recommendations which depended on the existence of this group.

Chair of The Parks Alliance Matthew Bradbury said he hoped the new parks minister would be even more pro-parks than Percy: "It is yet another setback but it would be lovely to be able to turn it into a positive.

"The risk is that the DCLG’s ministerial response will be further delayed while a new minister gets acquainted with the subject."

However he added that the alliance and the sector needed to support the new minister in any way possible.

Percy was due to attend a major conference on the future of parks next month, with organisers hoping that he would use the opportunity to publish, or at least speak on, his ministerial response to the CLG committe's parks inquiry report, published in February.

Berry has been an MP since 2010. He was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Greg Hands MP from May 2015 until 14 June 2017, working with him in the Treasury and the Department for International Trade.

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