UK Parks Underfunding Crisis - Update, Mid-September 2016
The National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces (NFPGS), the umbrella organisation for the dynamic and inspirational grassroots movement of over 6,000 local Friends of Parks groups, has published a detailed call to arms for all those who love and value parks to demand Government action to reverse the current underfunding crisis threatening the future of the UK's public green spaces.
Our statement can be read and downloaded here: www.natfedparks.org.uk/nfpgs-literature.html [Parks Crisis: NFPGS Submission to Government Inquiry (September 2016)]. All those who'd like to contribute to the Inquiry (deadline 30.9.2016 - see Note 1 below) are welcome to endorse the NFPGS statement, and maybe provide an additional 'cover letter' for their own submission explaining local circumstances - or do their own new statement taking up ome of the same themes.
The current Government Inquiry into parks funding is a historic opportunity to speak out loud and clear for urgent, effective, comprehensive and long-term Government action to protect the UK’s vital public green spaces for generations to come. The NFPGS statement:
- explains how the Inquiry was called following extensive lobbying by green space activists and concerned professionals
- outlines the causes and implications of the current crisis
- looks at how the previous crisis in the 1980s was positively acknowledged and addressed
- calls for the Government's Inquiry to re-visit, reaffirm and push for the implementation of the recommendations of the previous Select Committee Inquiry on Parks in 2003 which called for a long term funding programme for the UK’s public parks and for the care of parks to become a statutory service.
- suggests how a Parks Statutory Service would function successfully
- estimates that a Statutory Service could cost just £2-3billion a year, a small price to pay for such a unique and vital service for the entire UK population, and a cost the UK can well afford.
We believe that if the statutory duty called for in 2003 had been introduced then we wouldn’t be facing this current crisis. We call on all those who recognise the importance of parks to insist that the Government:
- brings in a Statutory Duty to monitor and manage these spaces to an agreed standard, eg the well-established Green Flag Award standard
- ensures there are adequate public resources for all public green spaces
- ensures public green space has adequate protection eg in planning policies.
Please fill in the Inquiry's special UK Parks Questionnaire Everyone concerned is being asked to fill in the following short and simple 'tick box' survey created by the Scrutiny Committee as part of the Inquiry - so please do so if you can!
In 2014 a major report was published by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the State of UK Public Parks. The path-breaking report documented the current slide into crisis and called for action to address this. A second, follow-up Report, backed up by extensive research (including contributions from 440 Friends Groups), has just been published - on 7th September. It demonstrates that the descent into crisis continues unabated. You can read the Report here:
The Lottery organisation makes some recommendations, but clearly doesn't feel able to criticise the Government or to make strong recommendations to it. So that's up to everybody else! Now is the time to speak out.
The Inquiry and Report: Media Publicity
*** 'UK's public parks face 'decline and neglect' ' [7.9.2016]
*** 'Parks crisis more acute in second HLF State of UK Public Parks Report' [7.9.2016]
*** 'Parks under threat' - NFPGS chair calls for statutory protection. 'You and Yours' show, BBC Radio 4 [26.8.2016]
[7min segment on parks, from 19.20mins to 26.40mins in the show]
scroll down to 'Parks'
'*** Out to grass: is your local park under threat?' - The Guardian [13.8.2016]
Parliament's Communities and Local Government Select Committee is currently conducting an Inquiry into the future of the UK's public parks to address the underfunding crisis threatening the UK’s green spaces. The Inquiry will 'examine the impact of reduced local authority budgets on these open spaces and consider concerns that their existence is under threat...'… 'The Committee will look at how parks should be supported now and in the future.'
The Inquiry has asked for evidence and views regarding, among other things, 'what the administrative status of parks should be in light of declining local authority resources for non-statutory services' [ie should it be a statutory service?], and 'what additional or alternative funding is available?'.
The deadline for responses and evidence is September 30th 2016 , and the full details can be read at: