Saturday, 29 November 2014

Parks Alliance

Government to hold green spaces seminar after positive first meeting with The Parks Alliance

Horticulture Week - 26 November 2014
The Government is to hold a green spaces seminar early in the new year after a "positive and encouraging" first meeting with The Parks Alliance, board members have said.  They told Horticulture Week that the seminar will be hosted by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) with other Government departments with an interest in parks to be invited, after a pledge by the minister responsible for parks Stephen Williams MP.

He also invited the Parks Alliance to work with DCLG civil servants on parks issues and to discuss a Commission for Parks.

Parks Alliance chairman Mark Camley, deputy chair Sue Ireland and vice chairman Dr Sid Sullivan met Williams in Parliament yesterday and presented him with a bunch of flowers and a jar of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park honey.

They said the Minister raised the question of whether parks should be a statutory service, something many members of The Parks Alliance support. He also recognised the need for quality standards, including the Green Flag scheme, run by Keep Britain Tidy.

For its part, The Parks Alliance welcomed the work the Government is doing identifying and mapping all UK parks, and asked that this work be extended to cover quality as well. The Parks Alliance has proposed and offered to facilitate a small pilot to develop a standard system for measuring the quality of parks, involving park users and managers.

Chairman of The Parks Alliance Mark Camley said: "This was a positive and encouraging first meeting to introduce the minister to the aims and work of The Parks Alliance as the voice of UK parks. "The minister fully understands the importance of parks to the quality of life in Britain and is committed to working with us to protect and improve this important service."  He added that the alliance looked forward to working with Williams, who is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West and his department.

Williams was positive about parks, saying they breathed life into communities by providing much-needed free space for physical activity as well as a nice spot to while away a free moment. He said: "It's great to see The Parks Alliance supporting local communities. Parks and green spaces provide millions of Britons with a gateway to the great outdoors. They are particularly important to people in town and city centres, where many residents don't have their own gardens, and allow a space for people to relax and for children to play."

The establishment of The Parks Alliance follows the Parks Leadership Round Table, hosted last year byHorticulture Week, which brought together nearly 40 key sector executives from across the UK to discuss how best to tackle the challenges facing the sector.

Parks professionals, landscape contractors and local authority representatives sign up to national petition at major events this autumnAt four major green space events in October and November, many of those who best understand, manage and speak up for our green spaces have been signing up to the UK 'Save Our Parks' petition.

The four events were:

- the Green Connect conference in Exeter on October 8th, attended by over 80 organisations concerned about green spaces
- the Sustainable Green Infrastructure conference at the British Library in London on 23rd October, attended by over 100 reps from local authorities, national green space charities and organisations, landscape contractors and designers, Friends Groups, academics and professionals
- the London Parks and Green Spaces Forum's event for London's Local Authorities at London's City Hall on 17th November, attended by Council cabinet members and Heads of Parks from 20 local authorities.
- an annual meeting of Green Flag judges at London's City Hall on 17th November

Representatives of the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces - the voice of the Friends Groups' movement - made presentations and contributions, ran stalls, joined in the discussions and distributed literature and petition forms. We were heartened by the overwhelming support for the national petition by the whole sector. It seems clear that almost everybody 'in the know' is highly aware, deeply shocked, and keen to speak out over the alarming crisis which the UK's green spaces are being plunged into due to the savage Government-driven cuts in funding and budgets.

The National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces is calling on all organisations to promote the UK petition to its members and the wider public throughout this winter as we move into 2015 and closer to the General Election in May.

Promote the 'Save Our Parks' petition - let's make the protection and improvement of our open spaces an issue in the May 2015 General ElectionThe Government's cuts to Local Authorities for our local public services, combined with the lack of statutory protection for open spaces, are causing the most of the problems we are facing. So please sign and promote the UK 'Save Our Parks' petition to step up the pressure on the Government and all political parties to take seriously the future funding and protection of our vital green spaces.

1. Sign the petition:
2. Spread the news via Twitter: @LoveParks_Week  #LoveParks
3. Spread the news via Facebook: -
4. Refer to the Parks Petition webpage: - the page includes a Sign Up Sheet and leaflets to distribute

And please don't forget to support your local green space Friends Group or help set up one for any green space without one!

best wishes

Dave Morris
NFPGS Campaigns Officer

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