Newly formed champion for public parks The Parks Alliance has written to the chair of the Commons Communities & Local Government Committee urging him to reconsider calls to hold an inquiry into the funding pressures facing parks maintenance and development budgets.
In a letter signed by The Parks Alliance chairman Mark Camley, the organisation says it believes the current crisis in parks is being "exacerbated by the absence of any Government department or body with a watching brief for urban parks."
The letter to the Commons select committee chair Clive Betts MP states: "In an increasing urban population, public parks, free at the point of entry, are a vital part of local communities' access to a healthy environment where they may enjoy their leisure and take exercise.
"However, across the UK parks maintenance and development budgets are at risk, potentially threatening profound social and environmental damage, while endangering Government policy with regards to healthy lifestyles, particularly the reduction of obesity and environmental sustainability."
The Parks Alliance was formed by key sector executives drawn from local government parks services, professional bodies, contracting organisations, third-sector bodies and parks friends groups in response to current concerns and to provide a single unified voice for the sector.
Its primary aim is to act as a champion for public urban parks within the UK, making the case for their investment while promoting the economic, social and health benefits to communities derived from well-maintained and therefore well-used quality green space.
The call for an inquiry into parks funding was first made by the Make Parks a Priority campaign, launched by Horticulture Week last year.
An early day motion laid by supportive MPs, highlighting the need for an inquiry into the pressures on parks, was signed by 43 MPs by the close of Parliament in May.
The need for and the establishment of The Parks Alliance grew directly from the Parks Leadership Round Table, hosted by Horticulture Week. The event involved more than 40 senior executives from the sector in a debate on how to find a greater voice for parks.
The board of the Parks Alliance includes representatives from the Institute of Horticulture, the British Association of Landscape Industries and the Institute of Groundsmanship.
Nick Reeves memorial service: 19 November, St Paul's Cathedral
A memorial service for Nick Reeves is to be held in the OBE Chapel of St Paul's Cathedral on 19 November at 11am. Reeves, who passed away earlier this summer, was chief executive of the Chartered Institution of Water & Environmental Management, a former policy director of ILAM and a driving force behind the creation of The Parks Alliance.