Parks figures join forces in bid to raise the profile of green spaces

Parks leaders vow to work together for benefit of entire sector.

Parks leaders have agreed to form a coalition to campaign for green spaces to be put back up the political agenda. Prominent parks figures met at the Future of Parks Round Table in London last week and agreed to work together as “the voice of the parks world”. Delegates discussed a range of issues, including future capital and revenue funding, skills shortages and training, community involvement and climate change. DCLG head of liveability and sustainable communities Peter Matthew said the sector is fragmented and politicians are “not sure who to talk to”. He called for a commitment for a coalition to “focus around core actions”, which his department would be willing to support. Chair Dr Stewart Harding said GreenSpace’s recent Park Life report findings (HW, 21 June) showed 32 per cent of those surveyed were unsatisfied with their parks. The survey also found children, who had not seen parks before their lottery-funded revival, were still more negative about parks than adults. Delegates to the GreenSpace debate discussed the growing gulf between the 450 HLF-funded parks and 4,000 other major parks that have not been revamped. Harding said parks were still suffering from a £8bn capital shortfall. Parks consultant Alan Barber said green spaces were likely to suffer because the 2012 London Olympics would siphon off lottery funds. He said it was essential parks and health leaders worked together to discuss the role of parks in improving wellness. He added that parks could use climate change as a lever to win more cash by emphasising their usefulness as temperature regulators. Delegates said community groups were vital to persuade councillors that parks needed funding and even suggested community group leaders should run for local government office to raise parks’ profiles.

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