Take part in University of Sheffield research project

How is austerity changing park management?

The Department of Landscape at the University of Sheffield has launched a widespread research project to investigate how the management of urban parks and green spaces is changing as a result of swingeing budget cuts.

Lead researchers Mel Burton and Nicola Dempsey are sending surveys to all local authorities in the UK asking how they are adapting in the face of austerity.

According to a 2014 Heritage Lottery Fund survey, 86% of park managers reported cuts to their revenue budgets of an average of 20% since 2010, with some, such as Liverpool City Council, facing a 50% cut over the following three years.

Burton and Dempsey aim to provide a national overview of how local authorities have developed innovative strategies to save money (such as involving voluntary or community groups in parks maintenance or contracting out services) and which ideas have been the most successful.

Burton said: 'In the light of austerity this is a timely piece of research that will help us better understand the current situation in green-space management. Parks management is at a crossroads and this research will help local authorities benchmark their provision and provide valuable insights into current and changing practices.'

The work is part of a wider study, led by Aalborg University, Denmark, which will compare the situation in the UK with that in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

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