Parks Crisis

Parks Crisis: Green space reps to address Parliamentary Inquiry on Monday 24 October 2016 and call for action
– A range of experts to testify to MPs about the shocking under funding crisis threatening our public green spaces
– Friends Groups’ Federation to demand parks become a Statutory service, backed by adequate funding and protection
– Watch the live broadcast from Parliament from 4pm to 6pm, Monday 24th October [Parliament Channel 8]:

Friends Groups’ Federation to demand parks become a Statutory service, backed by adequate funding and protection
Communities and Local Government Committee

The House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee is currently holding a national Inquiry into the Future of Parks. 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 submitted 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: [Parks Crisis: NFPGS Submission to Government Inquiry (September 2016)].

The NFPGS Chair, Dave Morris, has been invited to be an expert witness at the first public hearing – on Monday 24th. [Full details / schedule of the hearing below]. The key Federation messages to the Select Committee MPs, as set out in our submission, are:

– 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.
– We call for the MPs on the Committee 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.
– The Government must bring in a Statutory Duty to monitor and manage these spaces to an agreed standard, eg the well-established Green Flag Award standard
– We estimate 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.
– The Government must also ensure public green space has adequate protection eg in planning policies.
– These views are supported by a range of other responding organisations (eg the Landscape Institute, Fields In Trust, Green Space Wales, Open Spaces Society, Greenspace Scotland) and are backed by a 270,000 strong petition to the Committee (organised by the ’38 degrees’ lobby group), and by a public opinion poll in which 75% backed the call for Statutory recognition for parks:

A range of experts to testify to MPs about the shocking underfunding crisis threatening our public green spaces
The Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee will receive a petition signed by more than 273,000 people during an evidence session of its inquiry into the future of public parks. The public session is on Monday 24 October from 4pm and can be watched live and on demand at Representatives of online petition website 38 Degrees will present the “save our parks” petition to the Committee before being asked why they think local authorities should have a statutory duty to protect and maintain public parks. The Committee will also hear from The Parks Alliance, Heritage Lottery Fund, National Trust and the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces, among others. The Committee will ask about the impact of reduced local authority budgets, the role of friends groups and volunteers and which management models for parks councils should consider. The Committee has received nearly 400 formal written evidence submissions and more than 13,000 surveys completed online or face to face in parks since launching its inquiry in July.

Witness schedule: Monday 24 October, at 4.00pm, in the Thatcher Room, Portcullis House

· 38 Degrees
· Sue Ireland, Vice Chair, The Parks Alliance
· Peter Neal, Author of State of UK Parks 2016
· Ellie Robinson, Assistant Director of External Affairs, National Trust
· Drew Bennellick, Head of Landscape and Natural Heritage UK, Heritage Lottery Fund
· Dave Morris, Chair, National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces
· Ben Shimshon, Founding Partner, Britain Thinks
· Emma Boggis, Chief Executive, Sports and Recreation Alliance
· Will Smithard, Strategic Projects Director, ukactive

More information about the inquiry, including the written evidence submissions, is available on the Committee’s website. Committee Membership: Clive Betts (Chair) (Lab, Sheffield South East), Bob Blackman (Con, Harrow East), Helen Hayes (Lab, Dulwich and West Norwood), Kevin Hollinrake (Con, Thirsk and Malton), Liz Kendall (Lab, Leicester West), Julian Knight (Con, Solihull), David Mackintosh (Con, Northampton South), Jim McMahon (Lab, Oldham West and Royton), Mark Prisk (Con, Hertford and Storford), Mary Robinson (Con, Cheadle), Alison Thewliss (SNP, Glasgow Central)