Liverpool City Council has said it will pull out of the Green Flag Award and scale back upkeep to all its parks in an effort to make £50m of savings across all services.
The cabinet agreed the changes last week but stopped short of axing altogether the upkeep of every community park and medium-sized park, a shock option the council thumped on the table late last year (HW, 25 November 2011).
Liverpool has 17 Green Flag parks, which cost £200,000 to maintain every year. Divisional manager for sports and outdoor recreation Robert Lyall said the cuts "did not leave scope for high performance" across any park or green space.
"We are looking at medium performance so brushing pathways and picking up litter will be done less frequently. I'm not sure what the staffing implications are until we've had a full-scale service review in March."
The cabinet also agreed to transfer green services into a single-client unit within leisure services and create new partnership arrangements for 200ha Croxteth Hall and Country Park. The details were still being worked out, said Lyall.
The measures would save £16m, he added. The agreement is subject to approval by the full council next week.
Parks consultant Sid Sullivan said: "Liverpool talks of 'medium performance', which is typical political rhetoric intended to have no definition or measurable value."
He was also worried about the role of the private sector. "They are steering a course back to a lowest-cost regime. This smacks of a of knee-jerk response to the cuts."
17 - The current number of Green Flag parks in Liverpool, which has announced that it is pulling out of the scheme