Welsh parks forum revived as cuts bite

GreenSpace Wales resurrected and its role expanded as an estimated 20 per cent of Welsh park manager jobs are lost.

GreenSpace Wales is back and more important than ever after the loss of an estimated 20 per cent of Welsh parks managers, according to the group's coordinator John Ridgewell.

He said the former Wales Parks Forum had been going since the 1980s, but now needed reviving because of council budget cuts.

In 2008, the forum went into "hiatus" as councils began to cut staff. But Ridgewell said: "The view today is that this body is very important so we're resurrecting it and affiliating to GreenSpace. It's going great guns, linking with Lantra for training and having a broader advocacy role, not just for local authorities but business and the third sector."

He said cuts in Wales were as bad as in England and more pain was to come. "A tier of management has moved on," he explained. "We're losing the continuity so we have to work together."

Ridgewell, who himself took redundancy from Caerphilly County Borough Council three years ago, said all the 22 local authorities in Wales had lost "two or three" parks managers, making up 20 per cent of parks managers in Wales.

In a keynote speech to a GreenSpace Wales meeting at Bute Park in Cardiff, Welsh Local Government Association chief executive Steve Thomas said 145,000 local authority jobs had gone, including 4,000 in Wales - but only six per cent cuts had been made in Wales so far.

He said parks managers should beware of quoting "invest to save" arguments because council bosses need to save money now.

Valleys to Coast Housing Association community regeneration manager Steve Curry said collaborative working had improved his sites and a new public development at Wood Green was upcoming, with a new tender for a grounds maintenance contract due for 2013.

Key Stat

The proportion of parks managers estimated to have lost their jobs across Wales after council budget cuts - 20%.

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