Groundwork responds to CLG Select Committee public parks report
Responding to the CLG Select Committee public parks report, Groundwork’s national chief executive, Graham Duxbury, said: “The select committee recognises that protecting our parks and green spaces is enormously important but increasingly difficult. Councils can be creative with their budgets but there are limits. Some parks have the potential to benefit from private income but not all, especially those smaller neighbourhood parks that people visit most. If we’re going to keep our communities green and well, the people who use and care about the green spaces on their doorstep are going to have to do more.
“The good news is there’s a vibrant and growing community sector full of appetite and ideas. But, if we’re going to ask volunteers to take on more we need to give them the support to be successful. Groups tell us they want help to engage young people, to work with businesses and to understand the practicalities and risks of managing sites. They want this help to be local, expert and face to face. It’s the kind of support councils find increasingly hard to provide.
“As we work together to find solutions to the crisis facing our parks we need to build a better support system for those on the front line. Britain led the world in creating a network of green spaces to improve the health of urban communities through a mix of municipal leadership, private philanthropy and voluntary endeavour. We need to find a 21st century version of this mixed economy and common purpose if we’re going to stop the rot.”
Speaking in his capacity as Groundwork’s health, wellbeing and community ambassador, broadcaster and landscape designer, Mark Lane, added: “Green spaces whether within the urban or rural environs, but particularly within built-up areas, such as public parks, are the breathing lung, the wanted space for better health and well-being. Today, more than ever, budgets are tight, but that does not mean there is not a growing demand from local residents and community groups for these wanted outdoor spaces.
“Residents and community groups can build a better future and reap the benefits that green spaces have to offer in terms of health, happiness and community spirit. Communities are diverse for the better, but they still need the right advice and solutions for creating and managing their space, and for working together with local businesses and local councils.
“Historically, as cities expanded, public gardens and parks were planned and created to provide the working man with as much greenery as possible. Times may have changed over the last 250 years, but our need for outdoor spaces has not.”
Groundwork is a national charity that supports thousands of groups each year to decide how their neighbourhood is planned and managed.
In 2012, an OIdham community group called the ‘Fullwood Rangers’ were granted a peppercorn lease by the local authority on the site for 30 years. By transferring the site in this way, a group of nature enthusiasts have been enabled to transform the previously run-down site. They’re creating community allotments, shared gardens, a refurbished nature reserve, and outdoor sports facilities for the local community, all funded through a £45,000 grant which was secured through a partnership with Groundwork – money which the council would not have been entitled to access, and which is now transforming the site into a great community resource.