Norwich may bring back ‘parkies’

Grounds contract may be amended to bring park keepers back to city parks.

Another council may sign up to CABE Space’s push for traditional park keepers after insisting “humans on the spot” beat CCTV. “Parkies” could become a regular feature in Norwich once again within three years, said city council leader Steve Morphew. He said: “We see more community wardens and police on our streets, so expect more patrols in parks. We have CCTV in parks but humans on the spot are hard to beat.” A 10-year contract with grounds upkeep firm CityCare was up for renewal in 2010, and it could be “redefined” to include keepers. “We see their presence as figureheads who would work with members of the community and not in isolation at tackling things like antisocial behaviour.” Morphew, who heads a minority Labour council, admitted there was “politicking” over the issue, but said parks need keepers. Costs and numbers had not been worked out. “We have a high proportion of green spaces and historic parks that have had lottery funding. But we are not getting as much out of them as we should and aren’t protecting our heritage. Park keepers could help us do both.” CABE Space head of standards and best practice Deborah Fox said: “It is great to see authorities like Norwich placing more emphasis on a modern park force.” CABE Space launched its Parkforce campaign in 2005 to support people who care for parks. Westminster recently unveiled plans for 38 keepers (HW, 5 April).

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