Parks jobs saved by service rejig

Bournemouth parks department reaches council's budget savings target without redundancies.

A local authority parks team has shaken up its service to hit a £1.4m savings target, lifting the axe over a third of its staff.

"If you are going to knock 35 per cent off your budget you will probably lose 35 per cent of your staff," Bournemouth Council parks development manager Michael Rowland told a conference in Windsor last week.

Chiefs told the 135 employees of the funding crunch, but by tweaking the service all job losses were managed through natural wastage. They overhauled running of pitches, fee structures and cafe concessions and tapped into grants and sponsorship.

"Last year we were the only service to make the asked-for savings," Rowland told the Association for Public Service Excellence event. "That gained a lot of favour from the council in parks, which is a big strength - it is not so keen to make cuts now."

One of the biggest changes was devolving the running of bowling greens to the clubs, which took over upkeep but kept cafe profits.

GreenSpace South East forum manager Michelle Parker told the "Can Money Grow on Trees" conference that parks were not helped by a plethora of new policies that failed to address the dire state of funding.

"There have been white papers on growth, health, localism and the environment - lots of policy but some of it quite conflicting," she said. "The Government has set aside £2.4bn on regional growth funds, yet only £7.5m for Nature Improvement Areas."

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