Education and jobs axed as Royal Parks reworks spending strategy

Organisation looks to boost retail outlets and corporate sponsors to make up funding shortfall.

Royal Parks is to reduce back office staff by 23 per cent and cut funding for core activities such as arts and education programmes as a result of Government cutbacks.

Parks maintenance is also likely to be cut under new cost saving measures, the organisation has confirmed.

The move follows a £3.2m cut in grant funding over the next four years - around 25 per cent in real terms - announced in the Government's comprehensive spending review last October. The organisation is currently in the process of setting out its future funding strategy.

Nine positions have been axed since November 2010, with a further 29, predominantly back office staff, to go by 2014. This will reduce the workforce to 100. Eleven of the posts to be lost are currently in a statutory redundancy notice period.

Royal Parks will continue to run its parks apprenticeship scheme but will save costs on other education initiatives such as Look Out in Hyde Park by handing over delivery to other groups, said a representative.

"Core park services, including groundskeeping, planting and toilet maintenance, will be maintained as far as possible," she added. "To bridge the gap we are exploring a range of options to raise additional income while protecting the park environment, such as making better use of our building stock."

The organisation will also develop its range of retail merchandise and improve the online shop. The Royal Parks Foundation is to encourage greater corporate support and philanthropy.

Further details are expected to emerge over the coming month as Royal Parks publishes its end-of-year accounts and finalises its spending strategy.

Royal Parks The cutbacks
- Nine positions already cut.
- Twenty-nine jobs to go over the comprehensive spending review period.
- Reduced parks maintenance.
- No funding for "non-core" activities.
- Royal Parks to merge with the Greater London Authority in 2013.

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