Review of 2011 - Green space

Green space Review of 2011 - image: HW
Green space Review of 2011 - image: HW
January
•    The Government announced that the Royal Parks Agency would become part of the Greater London Authority with management and power switched to the London mayor Boris Johnston
•    Bristol City Council said it would sell off 41 green spaces under a 20-year parks and green spaces strategy. This was 2 per cent of its open spaces but critics said a third of the cash generated would not fund park improvements.
•    Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire celebrated the success of its first apprenticeship scheme, with 10 trainees learning on-the-job skills in parks and at college. It was launched to draw young people into the horticulture industry.

February
•    Olympic Park Legacy Company drew criticism for offering a single 10-year contract to manage the park, with experts saying it favoured giant facilities management firms against smaller more specialist grounds contractors.
•    Local authorities such as Calderdale and Coventry that merged green-space with street-care services to cut costs angered experts who said the two services had no common purpose and two very different skills sets.
•    Prominent and popular parks champion Steve Smith announced he would retire from his post as head of parks at Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council after a career spanning 40 years, half of it at Oldham.

March
•    Grounds upkeep, Green Flag, ranger and security services were set to be reined in as local authorities finalised austerity budgets. Councils were struggling to absorb a 28 per cent reduction budgets imposed by the coalition.
•    Forestry Commission gave notice it had given up trying to eradicate oak processionary moth, saying it would no longer issue statutory notices requiring the removal of nests and caterpillars. Instead it would try to contain the spread.
•    Plans for the UK’s first climate change park with flood-plain areas and habitats were unveiled by a group including Natural England and London Wildlife Trust at Mayesbrook Park in Barking and Dagenham

April
•    Royal Parks gave notice it would cut back-office staff by nearly a fifth and reduce funding for core activities such as arts and education programmes as a direct result of Government cutbacks, amounting to £3.2m over four years.
•    Twenty areas of derelict land across London were being lined up to be turned into community gardens and pocket parks after receiving £200,000 of start-up grants from a Defra scheme called the Transform Project.
•    A leading expert said parks staff needed reskilling to adjust to changes swept in by the coalition. Richard Welburn, parks and green spaces manager at Leicester, said managers needed to by "tuned into the language of localism".

May
•    North Dorset District Council said it would hive off the running of 24 open spaces such as meadows and quarter-hectare green spaces to town and parish councils in an effort to cut maintenance costs.
•    Wild fires swept across rural Scotland causing damage to National Trust landscapes at Torridon and Kintail & Morvich estates in Ross-shire. Wind and hot weather caused the fires, which led to around £100,000 of damage.
•    Tatton Park showed off its restored Japanese Garden with renewed flower beds, new bamboo fencing and dredged waterways in a 15,000 project. The oriental showcase is one of the finest of its kind in Europe.

June
•    The coalition’s long-awaited natural environment white paper, The Natural Choice, was cautiously welcomed for initiatives such as nature improvement areas but criticised over proposals to give locals more say in planning.
•    Friends groups from six parks in Haringey staged a demo against a 50 per cent cut to just over £1m in its green space maintenance budget. The group said the cuts would return the parks to the neglect of the 1980s and 1990s.
•     Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors recommended a push for more green space in cities and towns to reduce urban climate-change effects. A report found high-density areas were up to 6 degreesC hotter than countryside.

July
•    Heritage and Big lottery funds awarded £16m to eight parks including Victoria Park, Merseyside, Exhibition Park, Newcastle, and the biggest winner of all, Nottingham Forest Recreation Ground, which was awarded £3.2m.
•    Joseph Rowntree Foundation called for more support for community-based groups in the face of localism, giving them more power to control assets such as green spaces. However it said asset control could boost community pride.
•    Heritage Lottery Fund published a guide to help people raise cash for projects including tactics on approaching possible donors, but said applicants with an enduring vision and strong community links were more likely to strike lucky.

August
•    Urban nature sites in Scotland generate between £3 and £20 in community benefits for every pound spent, research by Greenspace Scotland and Scottish National Heritage found. Parks were good for health and reduced vandalism.
•    All eight of London’s Royal Parks won Green Flag awards, with Greenwich Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens also achieving Green Heritage Site status recognising high standards of care and upkeep.
•    Health and green space leaders criticised a call by the government to sell off surplus land around hospitals to raise funds and free up space for house building, saying green space was crucial to the wellbeing of patients and staff.

September
•    One of the highest-profile open spaces in Scotland, Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen, was lined up for a huge overhaul as part of a £140m project despite more than half of locals favouring no reworking of the historic urban park.
•    Green space leaders made one of the strongest attacks from any sector on the environment white paper, with GreenLink accusing the Government of cobbling together proposals that were "inadequate, vague and disconnected".
•    The increasing danger of acute oak decline prompted environment charity Woodland Heritage to roll out a fund-raising push to pay for more research after scientists recently found links to a new bacterium.

October
•    National Trust membership grew to more than 4m people for the first time in its 116-year history, notching up £120m. The recession, it said, was prompting people to visit historic gardens and houses instead of taking costlier breaks.
•    Landscape Institute produced Local Green Infrastructure: Helping communities make the most of their landscape so they could do just that because creating green spaces locally was "doable and affordable", it said.
•    Celebrities such as 1980s pop star Toyah Wilcox and broadcaster Adam Hart-Davis chose their favourite walks as part of a National Trust "walking festival" promotion to hit on the nation’s favourite walks.

November
•    Parks mangers braced themselves for another round of agonising budget cuts, with Liverpool set to cut upkeep to all its community parks to help save £50m and a few London boroughs facing job and budget cuts of near 50 per cent.
•    National Lottery announced a £10m fund to pay for upkeep of sports pitches through the Protecting Playing Fields Legacy Funds, which aims to bring disused pitches back into use, improve existing ones or create new pitches.
•    Play experts criticised Wandsworth Council in London for toying with privatising adventure playgrounds, while Nottingham Council sparked controversy by trying to make all of its playgrounds smoking-free.

December
•    Government plans to change the operation of the Green Flag – which may involve private businesses - could push up the cost of entering the scheme and damage its integrity, green space leaders warned Whitehall.
•    Park leaders and staff were overstretching themselves by trying to take on every aspect of Britain in Bloom, warned the RHS, which pointed to teams that more heavily involved contractors as a possible solution to the problem.
•    Green space leaders were all but clueless on the remit and operation of the Green Infrastructure Partnership – a keystone of the natural environment white paper – when they met with Government policy officials.


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