Knowsley Council has formally accepted the recommendations of an independent review into the future management and funding of its parks and green spaces.
The recommendation, put forward by the Knowsley Parks and Green Spaces Review Board, was unanimously agreed tonight (Tuesday, 28 November) by the Council’s Cabinet. It will protect forever 90% of Knowsley’s parks and green spaces, through the surrender of 10% of the borough’s parks and green spaces for new development over the next 15 years.
The income received will create a £40 million endowment which will be held in and managed by a newly created charitable Trust. The interest generated from this endowment will then be used by the Trust, to fund the future maintenance and care of the remaining 90% of Knowsley’s parks, forever.
As a result of continuing cuts by Government, Knowsley Council’s funding for parks and green spaces will stop in March 2019. This new model will see the council’s funding replaced by the interest generated from the endowment fund. This will be protected from any future council budget cuts and therefore will safeguard the future of the borough’s parks forever.
At the meeting, the Cabinet also agreed a resolution to ensure all 18 of Knowsley’s Green Flag parks are protected from any new development whilst retaining their national standard status – with the exception of part of Court Hey Park which is currently subject to a separate tender exercise relating to the future of the former National Wildflower Centre. It also published a list of the 17 parkland areas it now plans to surrender over the next 15 years.
The remaining 144 sites across the borough will be protected for public use forever, as a result of this action.
Throughout August and September the Review Board conducted an extensive consultation speaking to residents, businesses, expert witnesses and other local areas that have embarked on similar projects with their parks and green spaces. Listening to this feedback and using the expertise and judgement of the board members they developed a robust criteria to support the council in selecting potential sites for sale.
Following agreement of these recommendations, the council will now progress with this work to establish a new trust, create the endowment and engage with the local Parish & Town Councils who lease some of the sites involved.
Cllr Moorhead said: “We understand that parks are much loved community resources and we hope that residents will recognise the only other option would be to allow these wonderful spaces to simply deteriorate as the government cuts continue. We call on all our residents to embrace this new Trust and work to ensure the remaining 144 parks and green spaces – 90% of what we have now – continue to be special places for ourselves and future generations to enjoy forever.”