Camley On ... A crunch year ahead for the UK's parks

After two decades of investment and improvement, UK public parks and open spaces have become increasingly valued and well used. Green space is often central to regeneration projects from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to Birmingham's Eastside Park.

Innovative planting, habitat creation, planning and design are creating vibrant parks along with new forms of community engagement, attracting funding leverage, allocating resources, independent management and private sector partnerships.

However, as local authorities cut resources for parks even further to meet reductions in central Government funding, the future for UK parks is looking less positive.

Local authority parks budgets have already been reduced by at least 30 per cent with more expectations that local communities will take on regular maintenance. Another round of budget cuts will make 2014 a crunch year, when the public may begin to see the impact of cuts on the quality of their parks.

The Heritage Lottery Fund report on the state of parks will be a stocktake for those who support parks. The question for all of us will be what to do about the worrying prospects for our green spaces?

The Parks Alliance was formed out of HW's Make Parks a Priority campaign to be a single, clear voice for those who care about parks. In 2014, it will be pressing the Government to recognise the importance of parks and the challenges faced by this vital public service. The alliance will ask for a specific minister to have lead responsibility for parks.

We will also continue to build a sustainable alliance for parks to represent concerns and provide a contact point between Government and the sector. The support of individuals and organisations is crucial and we look forward to working together in 2014.

This year is set to be a tough one for all UK parks and The Park Alliance's focus is to work with the sector and Government to ensure that parks remain a precious and sustainable part of UK culture for years to come.

Mark Camley is chairman of The Parks Alliance

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