Reader Panel - How far is the localism agenda filtering into running parks?

We asked delegates at a recent parks and green spaces conference how successful the localism agenda has been so far in encouraging local people to become more involved in the running of their open spaces.

- Parks promoter

"Community transfers will succeed if momentum comes from the bottom up. In Bury, nearly all 31 football pitches are self-managed by clubs taking on finance and maintenance responsibilities. It's also happening with bowls and allotments.

"It's good for the council and the community - the clubs know the needs and have the freedom to meet them with council advice. Transfers require strong community organisations and supportive councils."

Kirsty Rhind, manager, GreenSpace North West

- Association chief

"Community involvement is not uncommon in the sector and there has been small-scale asset transfer. Localism may help more affluent areas to become more involved. But have people in deprived areas the capacity, the voice and the wherewithal to do this?

"It will take two-to-three years before we know whether there's a big shake-out of assets and the implications for management and maintenance."

Mark Bramah, assistant chief executive, Association for Public Service Excellence

- Consultant

"There are good models out there, but professional input from the local authority is needed to prevent mistakes and ensure it's not just the people who speak louder who control everything.

"Asset transfer is a good example of localism because communities can often tap into a wider funding pool by showing different needs. But it's important to ensure continuity because once the key people who drove the transfer have moved on, interest can wane."

Russell McDonnell, director, Mac Greenspace Solutions

- Parks manager

"It's happening through tenant participation. Estate residents will monitor standards, raise issues and tell us about a grot-spot that needs cleaning up. We have 90-plus inspectors but we handle maintenance.

"This is a good example of community partnership. Residents can be very vociferous, but because it's their neighbourhood you can be sure it will never descend into a tick-box exercise."

Duncan Henderson, operations manager for parks and open spaces, Kirklees Council.


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