Reader Panel - How can professionals prepare for the squeeze on park budgets?

At a meeting of green space leaders last week, the most pressing concern voiced was the increasing severity of central Government budget cuts. We asked industry leaders what they thought was in store for green spaces and parks departments.

Director

"The next year will see parks look even more closely at different models of delivery such as whether to take the commissioning or the community route.

"Everybody is talking gloom and doom, but there are opportunities and I know of parks managers who see openings. The key is to make sure your community and politicians understand how precious open spaces are to health and well-being."

Sue Ireland, director of open spaces, City of London Corporation

Manager

"Good parks departments - those that think laterally or outside the box - will look at closer engagement with people in planning, housing, social services and health.

"Next year will be a time of big thinking on service delivery, organisational changes and green space strategies. Community groups may criticise services, but you'll have to be more proactive with them because the localism bill is driving influence to a local level."

Richard Welburn, former head of parks and green spaces, Leicester City Council

Trustee

"It will cut deep and hard. Then we will go through it all again the next year.

"This year will probably be as challenging as it's ever been for parks departments, but some good may come of it. Improvements may come out of looking at things from a different perspective.

"There are so many permutations - how else might we deliver a service, who else might be able to do it, can somebody else do it better or cheaper than us or can we do it jointly."

Martin Page, trustee, GreenSpace

Adviser

"As professionals it's hard to consider the reality of having to rob Peter to pay Paul. Parks departments will be faced with tough choices. Do they salami-slice everything and make cuts across the board or do they manage Green Flag parks to a higher level than other spaces?

"We can't expect much money from the private sector if there's no economic growth and local authorities will have to be frank on what they can and cannot do."

Richard Barnes, conservation adviser, Woodland Trust.


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