TPA welcomes select committee report call for inclusion of parks within health budgets
The Parks Alliance (TPA), the body representing the people and organisations involved with creating and running UK parks, has supported the advice of the Communities and Local Government Committee in calling on central government to take a more joined-up approach to the funding of parks, but also called for greater investment in the parks sector.
The report into public parks, to which the LI has also contributed, was published on 11 February. It describes public parks as being ‘at tipping point’ and facing a period of serious decline unless their role in areas such as public health, community integration, and climate change mitigation is recognised.
With council spending suffering severe cuts, parks management budgets are down by up to 97 per cent. The report urges councils to take into account the contribution of parks in areas such as health and flood-risk management in their overall strategic plans, allocating funding to parks from these budgets as well as the designated parks budget.
TPA chairman Matthew Bradbury said his organisation welcomed the report but saw it as just the start of the process, stressing the need for central government to take on more responsibility, including issuing guidance to councils on working with health and wellbeing boards.
‘Fundamentally, we believe there is a case for greater leadership to ensure our public parks and open spaces thrive,’ he said. ‘We would go further than the report and ask that investment is directed by central government to ensure there is strong leadership in the parks sector. If this comparatively small investment is made, it will deliver huge return in terms of improved wellbeing, social cohesion and environmental management.
‘We need to consolidate on what’s been achieved over the years and reap the benefits. In order for leadership and national coordination to develop, this will require the necessary and urgent investment. It is then up to TPA and others to step forward and prepare the profession to respond and continue to innovate to protect our parks.’
While he acknowledged that there was no single solution to the long-term sustainability of parks, he said TPA was ready to work with ministers and local authorities in exploring alternative models, such as the possibility of asking new developments to finance new green spaces, which would benefit their residents.