Parks threatened by dispute between professional bodies

GreenSpace and ISPAL at loggerheads over concordat

By Matthew Appleby Green space resurgence may slow considerably if warring parks professional bodies don’t rescue a failing agreement this week. This warning came from leading parks figures at GreenSpace’s Making it Safe conference in Newcastle. Leisure and park managers body the Institute for Sport, Parks & Leisure (ISPAL) agreed to let GreenSpace represent its park managers after what many regarded as years of neglect. But after HW revealed a “concordat” for GreenSpace to take over ISPAL’s parkies last September (HW, 22 September), talks have broken down between the bodies. Oldham parks manager Steve Smith is representing ISPAL at the CABE Space’s leader programme in Bristol this week, and is on CABE Space’s steering committee. He said: “In Bristol it’s an opportunity to sort out the accord. I’m concerned there’s a slight chasm occurring between ISPAL statements and GreenSpace. It’s critical they get together and find ways to work jointly for the industry. The concord has gone awry for some reason. But parks are on the up. We can’t afford to have major bodies fragmenting.” GreenSpace chief executive Paul Bramhill, whose organisation has been aggressively pursuing the ISPAL parks membership, said: “We’re leaving doors open. We don’t want to upset negotiations. Discussion now is damaging but we’re hopefully meeting [at Bristol]. Smith said: “It’s a missed opportunity if ISPAL doesn’t clarify its position at Bristol.” CABE Space director Sarah Gaventa said: “We haven’t given up hope yet. I think they will come to some arrangement.” She said problems arose because ISPAL was about to appoint a new chief executive officer, adding: “It hasn’t got people in position so it’s a Catch-22 situation. It must be extremely confusing for parks professionals.” Chartered Institute of Water & Environmental Management chief executive Nick Reeves said: “It isn’t a happy state of affairs. The confusion caused by the simultaneous launch of competing professional bodies is in danger of undermining the profession and bending the parks agenda out of shape.”

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