Parks Alliance meets to plot steps towards better future for parks

Parks Alliance members gathered in Birmingham yesterday to plot the next steps for the organisation formed to stand up for parks.

 The round table event, hosted by Birmingham Council in its new £189 million library and theatre building brought together members of the Parks Alliance interim board, parks professionals from across the country, The National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces, GreenSpace Scotland, National Parks England, the Heritage Lottery Fund, NESTA, Keep Britain Tiday, BALI and the IOG.

Birmingham's head of parks Darren Share said Birmingham was bucking the trend, by opening a new library, a new park and refurbishing its nursery which continues the tradition of growing bedding plants in-house as well as increasingly for sale elsewhere.

"The Birmingham Parks Act was passed in 1854 and we had our first park in 1856. Now we have 3,500 hectares of open space, 29 million square metres of grass and 768,000 trees. The act was built on the need to get the workers' healthy and those are the same problems we are facing now. Our parks have a massive part to play in that agenda."

Share said his parks department had to find 30 per cent cuts but that 16,000 days worth of volunteering had been donated to help keep standards up.

Board members Sue Ireland, Andrew Gill and Dr Sid Sullivan, the director of National Parks England, Paul Hamblin, head of landscape at the HLF Drew Bennellick, Greenspace Scotland chief executive Julie Procter, Nesta programme manager Lydia Ragoonanan, Dave Morris and Sarah Royal from the The National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces and communications experts Ben Hurley and Milly Camley also spoke at the event.

The last Parks Alliance round table was hosted by Horticulture Week last May.

The movement grew out of Horticulture Week's Make Parks A Priority campaign. 

See next week's Horticulture Week magazine for more.

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