No let up from council squeeze

Our report this week into the budget settlements being agreed for parks and green-space services at councils from Leeds to London - the first of a series we plan to run in coming weeks - brings to the fore the unrelenting impact of the public-sector spending cuts on our sector.

Of the 20 councils we touch on this week, just a handful received a respite from budget reductions this year - while one, Dudley Council, actually saw an increase in its green-space finances for 2012.

For the rest, this year will be yet another 12 months of budget stretching and tough decision-making, as yet more is squeezed from maintenance budgets, planting schemes, sports facilities, children's play areas, tree care regimes and more.

Some departments have fared less harshly this year, in part due to front loading of budget cuts by councils in 2011-12. Others facing heavier cuts have yet more to contend with in 2013-14.

Many more are sitting somewhere in the middle, facing what may seem, given the challenging financial circumstances the world over, relatively modest budget cuts of a few per cent here and there.

But we have to remember that those "modest" reductions are being made to parks services that in so many cases have seen their budgets squeezed again and again over a period of many years. It is the cumulative impact of those budget cuts which will be making themselves felt once the latest budget reductions have been implemented.

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