Department of Communities & Local Government minister Baroness Andrews has said the second CABE Space Leaders Programme reflected “the resurgence and recognition of the parks sector work which lies at the heart of creating quality neighbourhoods”.
She told 100 park managers gathered in Bristol to share best practice: “[This event] reflects the appetite of the sector to learn and continue to evolve to deliver today’s challenges beyond the park fence.”
Parks consultant Alan Barber described the event as “fantastic”.
Andrews re-committed to creating good-quality green spaces and public realm to help build communities, not through a “paternalistic concern for their well-being or a philanthropic desire to do good, but an ideological commitment to work with people to foster a sense of community”.
She added: “Instinctively, we know that raising the quality of green spaces is about more than just improving the place. In practice, we see that good-quality green spaces have a critical role in bringing communities together and improving people’s quality of life. It can transform people and communities, bridging generational and cultural gaps, and bringing people together to play, relax and learn.
“But parks need to be well designed, managed and maintained for people to use them positively — a well-used park is less likely to be vandalised and will create a safer environment for all to enjoy. We are committed to delivering such spaces through our Cleaner Safer Greener Communities programme and work with CABE Space, Groundwork, the Green Flag Award Scheme and many others.”
She cited last March’s National Audit Office (NAO) report on enhancing urban green space as stating government programmes since 2002 “had halted the decline of open spaces”. In 2000, only 44 per cent of parks managers thought their spaces were stable or improving — this had almost doubled to 84 per cent in five years.
She said this was down to commitment from central and local government, the parks profession, the lottery, voluntary and community sector organisations and communities themselves.
But she added that the Public Accounts Committee’s consideration of the NAO report highlighted the failure of two-thirds of urban authorities to take into the account the needs of children and young people when developing their green space strategies. Andrews said: “That is not acceptable when we know the societal and health challenges of childhood obesity and social isolation or disengagement affecting many communities.”
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