Big Society raises parks fear

Green space experts have expressed caution at prime minister David Cameron's "Big Society" plan, which will give local people a greater say in local services.

Parks professionals said the initiative could be a disaster if parks and playing fields are given away. CABE director Sarah Gaventa said: "Most parks are already working closely with friends groups. But there is scope for improvement."

She pointed out that local authority-owned land around homes, clinics and council offices was often poorly used. Similarly, many social housing providers have green spaces and play areas that are virtually unused. She suggested local partnerships with tenants groups could revive these spaces.

Gaventa added that corporate volunteering could be a big factor. But she stressed that council involvement was vital: "Councils can offer skills and expertise. We're concerned that some community groups might run parks for just one sector of society."

She remarked that Cameron had only talked about older volunteers who have time on their hands. "We have got to find a role for younger people," she insisted. There are genuine fears that local authorities might be tempted to give away land. "Once you give it away, you can't get it back," Gaventa warned.

Oldham parks head Steve Smith agreed that councils should remain in control. "We recently had one group that took over a piece of land. It worked well for a few years, but now the management has been split by disagreements and the land is now overgrown and filled with burnt out cars. Unless councils retain ultimate control, it can be a disaster."

But parks consultant Sid Sullivan said: "This will help bring in volunteers and people who want to get work experience."

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Sargent's solutions - how to avoid the traps of 'professional non-payers'

Sargent's solutions - how to avoid the traps of 'professional non-payers'

Be wary of unscrupulous clients who may look for loopholes to avoid settling up at the end of a job, Alan Sargent warns.

Opinion... A wish list for unblinkered thinking

Opinion... A wish list for unblinkered thinking

Opinion... A wish list for unblinkered thinking

Opinion... A wish list for unblinkered thinking

Generations of ordinary British people have been let down by weak, visionless leaders -- politicians more engaged by the next election than our national best interest.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Horticulture Week Custodian Awards

Products & Kit Resources