Fear of decline sparked inspection of lottery-funded parks

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) decided on a UK-wide inspection of parks it has funded in the run-up to its 20th anniversary because it feared that reporters would find previously funded projects in decline.

"Our worry was that we would get a call from a journalist saying we want to look at them all," HLF landscape head Drew Bennellick told The Parks Alliance meeting earlier this month.

So the HLF chose to gently persuade local authorities to bring their parks up to scratch or threaten to ask for funding to be returned.

Parks policy adviser Shaun Kiddell has been touring the parks. Bennellick said he has saved several toilets, encouraged reinstatement at an overused Bristol park, seen dysfunctional fountains and found innovation by parks staff everywhere.

"He's been really welcomed by park keepers," Bennellick added. Out of 63 sites visited so far, two were flagged as red or in need of intervention, two as amber and the rest were fine.

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