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24hrs To Complete The Parks Consultancy Online Survey

Posted on by Conrad Brunner

The Friends of Queens Park [FQP] urge all local citizens to complete the online survey addressing the future of our city’s parks and open spaces (if they have not already done so). The survey takes 10-20 minutes, depending on how much you want to say, and you can view it here.

“If things must be cut, what should go?”

“If things must be cut, what should go?”

The survey will close on Friday 28 October 2016 at midnight.

BHCC says: “Councils all over the country are facing reductions in the funding they receive from central government. It means they’re facing tough decisions about how to go on providing many services. In Brighton & Hove, one key service affected will be parks.”

“Between 2009 and 2020, the council’s parks service will have to lose around one third of its funding, down from £4.7m to just £3.4m.”

So this survey is essentially asking: “If things must be cut, what should go?”, and what can local communities do themselves to maintain their open spaces?

On one issue raised by the survey, FQP is able to be clear and specific: the committee supports the maintenance of parks and gardens in the city as its number one priority.

There was widespread concern among the committee about the likely effects of these cutbacks. Comments include:

“People haven’t taken on board what is coming. I doubt the vast majority of park users know or appreciate what these cuts are going to mean for all of us. They will be a massive.”

“A verge is important. It represents a tidy community. People are quick to notice when things go wrong.”

“A lot of people value the park. It is the centre of their universe.”

Regarding the trend towards increased responsibility falling on local friends groups such as FQP, there was some concern and scepticism:

“It’s just not possible for a volunteer group like FQP to take over the running of the park. We cannot make it work.”

“Maintaining a park is a professional enterprise but it is cheap compared to, say, a leisure centre.”

“There are approximately 20 qualified volunteer leaders in Brighton & Hove at present, and that is not nearly enough to make a real difference to our open spaces.”

“We should join the Friends groups pushing for parks to be a statutory obligation.”

“Is there a way of being more commercial about the park, in a way that generates a profit which can then be ploughed back into the park [as a self generating trust fund]?”

“Sponsorship is labour intensive, and it is not a particularly stable model.”

There was widespread agreement that the state of our parks will likely get much worse before real action is taken in the community.

On the issue of playgrounds, and to what extent they should be preserved, many felt this was a false option. In the light of looming cuts, however, FQP favours the option offered that some play areas should be reduced and that the council should aim for quality not quantity. This takes in the ‘broken windows’ philosophy, whereby a damaged or neglected service has a detrimental affect on an area.

One council employee informed the committee that it is already council policy to ‘remove, not repair’ when it comes to children’s play areas.

In the area of financial priorities – where scarce resources should be focused – it is the opinion of the committee that the council is not clear enough about the issues. Johnny Webb, FQP chair, said: “FQP feels we are not provided with sufficient information, specifically costs, to enable us to make the right choices about these important issues. For instance, how much does it actually cost to maintain the playground area in Queens Park? We require current and historical figures on which to make an informed choice. Especially if we are going to be asked to do all the work.”

“At present, we rely on the council to make these calls about what is used and what it cost.”

FQP will shortly release news about Carols In The Park plus future events and voluntary activities in the park.

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