Charity urges managers to use study to boost community parks

New statistics to give parks managers an aid in seeking funding.

Park managers should use evidence from “the biggest parks survey ever” to bring community green spaces in line with lottery-funded showpieces, says GreenSpace. The charity’s Park Life report suggests that 38 per cent of the 20,000 park users who responded to its GreenStat survey want better maintenance and more facilities while 43 per cent want more to do when they visit parks. GreenSpace chief executive Paul Bramhill said: “This shows that the green space sector needs to get better at asking our customers what they want. It’s about awareness raising and giving local managers the information they need to manage their parks.” He added that lottery-funded improvements of large parks mean respondees’ expectations had been raised for local, smaller parks. “Some major parks are setting a standard: people are starting to compare local facilities and finding they’re not as good.” Bramhill said worrying trends include dissatisfaction at facilities, suggesting that their decline in the past 50 years has to be reversed. He said local authorities need to address revenue funding to improve parks and to safeguard and halt the decline of parks’ budgets. Leeds recreation projects manager Mike Kinnaird, whose park users accounted for nearly a quarter of the report’s respondees, said it had used surveys for three years in a bid to secure extra funding for local community parks. “Our flagship parks such as Roundhay have had injections of HLF cash but there is a marked difference between these and community parks. This is an issue that has come out quite strongly in surveys. Community parks have a lot of visitors but there is a lack of infrastructure features such as signs and benches. We have used the surveys as an evidence base and for advocacy. We now have up to £4.5m for a parks renaissance project specifically for community parks. “You can talk to councillors for years as a parks professional but they listen to evidence. We were proactive with Greenstat sending out questionnaires and not relying on the website- that’s why we got such a good response.”

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