Future of parks is in the hands of partnerships

Glendale has called for the general public to be involved more in the future of parks.

The company has witnessed a decline in spending on parks due to government cuts which has led to an average 15 percent reduction in funding for green spaces.

In addition, a report by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), the National Trust and the RSPB supported by other environmental bodies and organisations claims there’ll be little or no funding available for public parks by 2020.

Terry Doyle, Glendale’s South West and South Wales regional director said: “There is a worrying downward trend in expenditure on parks and green spaces but this can be reversed by having a more commercial approach to the maintenance, use and management of parks.

Volunteer groups, community interest groups and trusts are also going to be critical in managing parks as they can also tap into alternative sources of funding and help alleviate pressure on local authorities that are already having to juggle scarce resources.

“Whenever I meet with parks managers who carry out their maintenance in-house I’m aware that trust, reduced standards and loss of control are the main factors behind not market testing their service provision. Better specifications and contract arrangements can ensure that with the right service provider all these concerns can be addressed and protected against whilst savings can be achieved through economies of scale and innovation.

“Additionally those involved in the management of green spaces should also look at adopting ‘spend to save’ plans and where relevant, perhaps join other local authorities in a buying group when outsourcing services as economies of scale can be reached through the merging of overheads and better utilisation of large-scale equipment.

“To really address this issue more needs to be done to consult with park users and ask them what’s important to them. It’s what most companies do when providing a product or service. Most local authorities are looking at parks and how they can generate income from what is in place and are doing that well through staging festivals or large scale events.

Communities are passionate about their local green space and really care about the maintenance standards and activities available in them. The public will contribute, both in money and kind, to the upkeep and improvements in parks and we’re now seeing innovation along these lines across the whole of the UK.

Combining management of parks with communities, volunteers and charities does require a change in the way parks managers work and through embracing specialist service providers in the maintenance of parks this would free up valuable client officer time to invest in relationships and working arrangements needed to reduce costs.

“Fundamentally if people are asked what they want from their parks and green spaces, are given what they want and get involved – parks will be greater utilised and remain higher up on the political agenda.”

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