I know that 2016 looks like another challenging year for some of you. For while some Parks and even some parts of the UK have sufficient funding and support for Parks, that is certainly not true for all areas and all parks. Local authorities will be in the process setting budgets for the coming financial year and we’ll see the funding outcome for parks. While we hope for the best, we should be ready for something short of that. Therefore, we remain concerned about the risk of closures, sell-offs and a drop in the quality of our green spaces, which have improved so much over the past 20 years.
For every £1 invested in parks, there is around £12 return in social, environmental and economic benefits – so while the case for parks is clear, we all need to be advocates for investment in them
The Parks Alliance have made a start, but as 2016 will see the local and mayoral elections in May it will be for us all to remake the case for parks. We have called for a public inquiry in to the crisis facing parks – and I hope the CLG Select Committee will pick this up. As we know, parks and open spaces are particularly beneficial for physical and mental health, so collaborations on public health is something we should all push for. This year we have already hosted a policy roundtable with stakeholders on future funding, and further roundtables are planned.
The Parks Alliance was awarded £9,600 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) last year to enable us to research best practice membership models and develop a membership model to achieve financial sustainability. We hope to reveal findings of the project in the spring, and use these to take the work of the Alliance forward.
In 2016, I hope that through greater understanding of green infra-structure benefits, health benefits, and community cohesion benefits that parks provide that the value of them and the case for investing in them will gain greater traction.
Mark Camley, Chair of the Parks Alliance