Involvement of local people crucial, says former director

Local people must be involved in the management of local parks if the sector is to enjoy a "renaissance", according to Andrew Spink, former public services director at Ground Control.

He said Government austerity measures have knocked the hope out of the grounds sector. "But there are good councils and good private sector companies," said Spink, now retired, who also worked for local authorities and formed Vale Contract Services before joining Ground Control.

"The key is passion about horticulture, not businessmen in suits looking to make a quick buck. I've always believed in the old parkie and while working for Chester sought to have local staff. If there's going to be a renaissance we have to go back to the basics of parks management. It's all about having local people in local parks.

"They are the people who have a passion about qualitative gardening and not just about flitting in and out to do a quick job without any sense of ownership of the park. This is not easy given affordability issues councils have.

"But they need to try and specify a vision for how they want the service delivered rather than deliver a bill of quantity. They need to be much more perceptive."

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