Managers fear cuts will hit parks

Parks funding could be cut as local authorities struggle to balance books in new budget round, warn park managers

Parks managers have spoken out about their concerns that parks budgets could be slashed because local authorities are struggling to balance their books in the new budget round. Torbay Council leisure community development manager Richard Taylor said: “Several councils in the South West are likely to suffer cutbacks, which will affect green space.” He said Torbay was grappling with a £9.3m deficit and that the council hoped to cut 10 per cent from all budgets. He added: “To meet the targets we would have to start deleting parts of the service.” He suggested that bedding plants and the level of support to “friends” groups could be at risk. A south London parks manager, who declined to be named, said there is plenty of money for capital budgets — often provided by regeneration or lottery funds — but there is a shortage of money for routine maintenance and planting. He added: “This situation is likely to get worse.” Other managers have expressed doubts for the future. Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council assistant director for leisure Norman Hudson said: “We will have to contribute to the budget. I’d be surprised if we didn’t have to make some kind of saving.” Customer services manager for Hull parks and gardens, Steve Scott, said Hull City Council is reorganising its parks department to make efficiency savings. Copeland Council open spaces manager Tony Magean said the council is trying to recoup money by selling parks services to other local authorities, housing associations and schools. He said local parks had been replacing bedding plants with perennials over the past three years to save money.

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