Organisations set out parks manifesto for General Election

Both the Parks Alliance and Fields in Trust have released details of their parks manifesto, aimed at all political parties ahead of next month's General Election.

The election presents an opportunity to ensure the UK's parks, playing fields and green spaces are addressed as a vital national issue by the next government.

Fields in Trust is championing our green spaces and raising awareness of the positive impact they have on our communities.

Fields in Trust is calling on the next government to recognise the vital contribution that parks and playing fields make to the physical health and mental wellbeing of our communities.

In recent months, the nation's green spaces have had significant political attention through the Communities and Local Government Parliamentary Committee Inquiry and its subsequent report into Public Parks, yet the dissolution of Parliament, before CLG Parks Minister Andrew Percy had formally responded to the report, risks the loss of impetus and the issue being overlooked in a crowded legislative programme of the next Parliament.

Fields in Trust Chief Executive, Helen Griffiths said: "Our nation's parks and green spaces are at a critical juncture. In these challenging times, our local spaces are vulnerable to closure and so it is important we stand up to champion the positive impact they have on our society.

"Research has found that 92% of local authority park departments have experienced budget cuts in the past three years and that between 2014 and 2016 a total of 214 playgrounds were closed by 65 local authorities across the UK.

"Fields in Trust's submission to last year's Communities and Local Government Committee's Public Parks Inquiry called for a change in the way public green space is conceived, not as a drain on spending that requires a considerable amount of money to maintain - but rather as an asset which can be deployed to achieve longer term savings and happier, healthier more connected communities.

"It is important that we re-value the enormous contribution our green spaces make to our communities. Ahead of the publication of the Minister's response to the CLG Committee's inquiry report, this General Election offers an opportunity to ensure parks remain central to the debate on how we tackle issues such as healthcare, community cohesion and our children’s development."

The FiT Manifesto for Parks furthers the calls set out in our CLG Inquiry submission through four policy "green lines":

  • Championing our parks is about revaluing our green spaces to ensure their contribution to society is properly recognised.
  • Supporting our communities calls for parks to be available to all.
  • Activating our nation puts parks at the heart of efforts to create a healthier nation.
  • Protecting our green future looks at how the next generations require a safeguarding of our parks today.

The Parks Alliance has released six ‘park pledges’ which it encourages candidates and parties to embrace ahead of the upcoming elections.

The pledges are:

  1. Continue to appoint a Minister for Parks as a key priority, ensuring that they have a good understanding of the sector and resources to champion parks and open spaces.
  2. Commit to respond to the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee “Parks” report as soon as possible following the election and act upon the recommendations through the establishment of a Cross Departmental Working Group and parks ‘Task Force’.
  3. Prepare, resource and implement a parks/open space strategy that leads to investment in the sector and helps identify robust, effective and innovative funding, governance and management models for parks.
  4. Work with local authorities to reverse and mitigate the impact of cuts; protect funding; and generate sustainable income streams for the parks and spaces that are so vital to our health and well-being.
  5. To champion parks within Parliament and work with their local authority to identify a ‘Park Champion’ in each council.
  6. Commit to ensure the Brexit process, particularly the transition of legislation to the UK, leads to genuine enhancements for parks and open spaces.

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