Regular Updates from our Sector
An Update from the Chair of the Parks Management Forum
I thought I would take this opportunity to update you on a recent few developments and a follow up from a number of conversations we have had. With Covid still impacting and a 2nd wave now occurring and the chaotic scenes we see across the country. In my own authority in Watford, we are already preparing for further changes with possible movement from Tier 1 to Tier 2 and beyond. Like all of us, it has hit us hard, financially and emotionally. Because of this I wanted to touch on what I feel our focus should now be and will be discussing this with members of the PMF this week. The issues that concern me are funding – no surprise here. But my take on this having spoken to colleagues is that there is no future bail-out coming. Despite billions going to culture, arts and heritage and many other sectors, yet again, parks have received nothing, and to be absolutely frank, there is nothing coming. MHCLG have stepped back and appear to have ‘lost interest’ in parks. DCMS are dishing out money but parks don’t come under their remit. The National Lottery Heritage Fund have new priorities and whilst parks are still important to them, there is no magical bag of money anymore.
So where does this leave us? In pretty dire straits it would seem. Local authorities across the UK now have huge holes in their budgets and in many cases, cuts will have to be made. We now need to shift our emphasis to protecting what we have, to supporting those staff in parks and to promote what we do like we never have before. We have to go back to basics, but be better at it. We need to support, learn from each other, and continue to be innovative and creative as we have been for years, if not decades. The evidence we have from academics, bodies like Fields in Trust, Green Flag, APSE and Future Parks Accelerator have been incredibly helpful. Yet as a sector we are still incredibly fragmented with many groups pertaining to be ‘the voice of parks’. Well these voices are all important, but these voices now need to join up and be one unified strong singular voice. With this in mind, and after discussions with some in the sector, including Drew Bennellick and Paul O’Brien, I am hoping we can pull together a meeting of all bodies working in our sector to move this forward. We also now need to look at how we can support those in parks management, maintenance and development roles in the future – building on the knowledge hub we have on this website, looking at developing Technical Advice Notes, specific guidance on the many issues we face day to day.
Over the next couple of weeks, we will be fine tuning our business plan, as one major issue we have to tackle, is sustaining what we are doing as a forum. We need to find a resource to help us move this group forward, whether through a grant, a sponsor, or possibly a membership fee. We had an interesting conversation with the Grounds Management Association this week who charge less than £50 a year to join them. Perhaps we need to follow suit? Food for thought.
Thank you all and do keep in touch. Paul Rabbitts 25/10/2020
An All Party Parliamentary Group for Parks and Green Spaces – a message from Chris Worman MBE
I hope you are all keeping well in these challenging times.
Some of you will be aware that I have been lobbying for an All Party Parliamentary Group ( APPG) for Parks and Green Spaces for some time. (outside of PAG)
I am pleased to report that Tuesday saw the inaugural meeting ( via zoom) on this new and important APPG which was chaired by Lilian Greenwood MP.
The group’s statement of purpose was agreed as “To address the most urgent issues affecting our parks and green spaces, including but not limited to funding, skills, inequality of access and provision, climate change, biodiversity and the impact they have on the nation’s health and wellbeing”. It was also agreed that Keep Britain Tidy will provide the secretariat.
The pandemic has demonstrated how valuable public green spaces are to our nation’s physical and mental well-being, not to mention the vast environmental benefits they provide. The group will provide a unique platform bringing together Parliamentarians, industry experts and other key stakeholders to discuss pressing issues. This is a real first for the industry and puts our discussions into parliament.
Parks Community – a new website for Friends Groups
To our national partners and all organisations active in or supporting the greenspace sector
A big hello from the Parks Community UK team and the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces during this difficult time for all of us and our sector. Our green spaces – and the communities that depend on them – continue to depend on us all to work together to safeguard and champion their needs.
A key imperative is to continue to support and empower those in our communities who care deeply about and are committed to taking action for our parks and public green spaces. To that end over the last 18 months we have developed a peer-led ‘one stop shop’ website to serve the movement of over 7,000 local Friends Groups. The site contains highly-focused guidance, relevant and inspiring case studies, and links to key national organisations. This ‘Rethinking Parks’ initiative – parkscommunity.org.uk – was supported from the beginning by the wider sector.**
We are now delighted to report that the PCUK team, supported by the NFPGS, have now created a special ‘state of the art’ online tool which we have launched today.
‘Better Friends’ is a strength-checker* that is free to use on our website: https://parkscommunity.org.uk/betterfriends/ It is the only tool of its type designed specifically to help the thousands of volunteer Friends and community groups who champion and try to animate and improve their local parks and green spaces.
Using it should be an enjoyable challenge and a neat and non-judgmental way to test the current health of any greenspace Friends or community group – to support and encourage groups to continue to do the best possible for their local green spaces. The survey is a series of questions about the group, membership, set up, outreach, activities, partnerships, and vision. Those filling it in will be thinking about how their group operates, how effective it is, and areas of activity in which they might improve. After they have completed the questions, they will receive an emailed feedback report – including an overall score for their group and scores for the different sections filled in, and pointers to some of the helpful online resources available on the Parks Community website. A group may wish to complete ‘Better Friends’ annually as a strategic assessment and planning tool to help identify issues and monitor progress.
Please spread the word to any groups you feel may find the Better Friends tool useful. https://parkscommunity.org.uk/betterfriends/
We hope our parkscommunity website, and pcuk and natfedparks tweets and bulletins, have helped keep greenspace groups – and national bodies – connected during these tough times. We are of course keen to do our best to continue to support the other valuable initiatives by our partners and the sector for the benefits of our green spaces and those who use and rely on them.
best wishes and solidarity
Dave Morris, NFPGS Chair (and part of the Parks Community UK team)
Rethinking the Future of Parks – Explore Innovation to secure the future of parks
There are over 27,000 urban greenspaces in the UK, with more than half the UK population regularly making use of them. The COVID-19 pandemic has reignited the wider debate over public and private greenspace, yet they remain an area underfunded and often in need of innovation and development. What can we do to change that?
Join us to examine key topics relating to the future of parks and greenspaces based on learning from innovators in the field. We will explore what it will take to create a future parks sector that is thriving, sustainable and of benefit to all.
This interactive event will include speakers and presentations on work from across the Rethinking Parks and Future Parks Accelerator programmes, as well as the opportunity for debate and discussion and the development of a future vision for the sector. The event is aimed at people involved in the management and development of parks and greenspaces as well as parks innovators and enthusiasts.
For session descriptions and to book please click here.
Home Is Where The Park Is; The Pandemic & Nature
Less than 10% of British people want to go back to normal after lock-down, with most seeing upsides from breathing cleaner air to greater sense of community spirit.
During this webinar we will discuss the importance of the natural world around it and how as designers we can enhance our green spaces.
England’s Green Space Gap – a landmark report from Friends of the Earth
This report exposes how widespread green space deprivation is, how it is an issue of racial injustice as well as concern from a public health perspective, and what needs to be done to fix the problem. It also showcases great examples of community led initiatives.
Friends of the Earth has for the first time mapped the availability of green space for people living in communities across England. This has been done by bringing together data on public green space, garden space, and open access land such as mountain, moor, heath, down or common land, and combining it with neighbourhood population data, including on ethnicity and income.
Our analysisreveals a marked disparity in access to green space and particularly a strong correlation between green space deprivation and ethnicity.
The stand-out finding is that if you are a person of black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) origin you are more than twice as likely as a white person to live in areas in England that are most deprived of green space. 42% of people of BAME backgrounds live in England’s most green space-deprived neighbourhoods, compared to 20% of white people.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed existing inequalities, including those covered in this report. These have already been well documented, for example in the ground-breaking Marmot Review of health inequalities in England, and more recent work by The King’s Fund.
Shortly before the pandemic, Health Secretary Matt Hancock spoke about the need to address inequalities:
“Tackling this postcode inequality matters to this government. It’s what we mean when we talk about ‘levelling up’. The underlying factors are a complex interaction between demography and economy. But because healthcare inequalities are geographically concentrated, it means we can take a targeted approach.”
Friends of the Earth has produced this work to:
- Make the case for proper and sustained funding to raise both the quantity and quality of green space, especially in areas that lack it, so that the undoubted benefits flow to everyone.
- Provide data and evidence to empower the many local champions of green spaces across England.
- Influence the development and application of new green space standards by Natural England and others.
- Propose how protection and provision of green space would aid numerous central and local governmental aims, from health and community to land use and environment.
- Showcase examples of innovative approaches and good practice to illustrate the potential for action and to inspire change.
Visit our main website to access and use the map we’ve produced, or download the full report (PDF).
A general summary report is found here. https://policy.friendsoftheearth.uk/insight/englands-green-space-gap
A general update from the Chair of the Parks Management Forum
Its been a summer of discontent for all of us, whether working in parks and open spaces, dealing with the fall-out of Covid-19 and the impact on our roles. What the pandemic has shown us is the importance of what we do, the impact we have had on communities, people’s lives and the Local Authorities or sectors we work for. It has been incredibly challenging. Personally, in Watford, where I am responsible for parks, the levels of usage in them has been phenomenal during lockdown and post lock-down. Litter has been significant, increased use of BBQs, users visiting parks who in some cases, have no idea how to behave. However, they have been sanctuaries for many – places to escape and find peace and solitude.
The Parks Management Forum has grown over the last few months, with over 2,000 followers on LinkedIn, with 1,200+ on our mailing list and over 600 followers on Twitter. We have had positive meetings with Fields in Trust, Green Flag Award, The Landscape Institute, Lantra, the National Trust, Future Parks Accelerator and Nesta. APSE continue to support which we are thankful for. The Board has not met for several weeks with many being away on holiday for the summer but we will reconvene this September with priorities including developing the Business Plan, meetings to be arranged with NLHF, CMA and the Institute of Horticulture. There are challenging times ahead and with the spending review due this September, it is very unlikely we will see any funding coming our way. The challenge will be to protect our budgets, upskill and champion the cause of parks but most of all, work together with our partners. Stay on board and keep in touch.
Paul Rabbitts, Head of Parks, Heritage and Culture at Watford Borough Council
Parks Article in The Observer Magazine by Rachel Shabi
Great article by David Lambert of the Parks Agency in TurfPro magazine
Pearson Park, Hull, restored after National Lottery Heritage Funding
National Trust Research launched on the need for green space
Take your rubbish home – the Guardian urges
The National Trust announces major research project results on funding crisis for parks – £55 billion needed
Public Health England launch a new study on Green Space Accessibility
The Royal Parks Launch their movement Strategy
World Urban Parks Webinar July 15th on becoming a National Park City
Setting a fine example on increasing biodiversity in Corby
Fly-tipping increases during lockdown
APSE Parks Portal
An update from TurfPro and a blog on litter
Kangaroos in parks?
The health value of parks from the TCPA
Welwyn Garden City, 100 years old, any lessons learnt?
A Resource for Friends and Community Groups working in Green Spaces
An abuse of parks is an abuse of society part 2
An abuse of parks is an abuse of society
BBC Breakfast and an appearance by Chris Worman MBE on litter in parks
Guidance on re-opening play areas and outdoor gyms – if only they had asked Parks Managers!!
Going Green For Parks
Here is the Going Green for Parks info: please can everyone share, tweet and take part if possible 😊
World Urban Parks calls on iconic civic spaces and parks to be lit Green on Tuesday 30th June 2020. Be sure to tag your posts Twitter: @WUParks Facebook: @worldurbanparks & Instagram: @wurbanparks
The #GoingGreenForParks #GoingGreenforParkies celebration encourages world wide involvement by:
• Light up your spaces and places Green from sunset on June 30th or now until the end of June!
• Share your photos and experiences using the #GoingGreenForParks #GoingGreenforParkies hashtags on all social media platforms
• Celebrate Your Parks and the Professionals that work so hard to keep us all safe, healthy, and strong.
The case for local authorities to be involved in climate change
The need to protect parks from cuts – the USA example
An Important Update and Statement from the Parks Management Forum 20/06/20
Between Thursday 18th June and Saturday 20th June, we have written to every single MP in the country, 653 of them as well as written to MHCLG, DCMS, DEFRA and Dept of Health and Social Care. They have received the attached statement outlining the important of parks and green spaces with a number of recommendations. We have also contacted The Times and The Guardian, as well as Horticulture Week. The next stage is to contact all Chief Executive Officers and Managing Directors of all Local Authorities. With nearly 1,300 now on LinkedIn following us – nearly all involved in parks in some way, over 300 on Twitter and a growing database too, this is very much gathering pace.
Going to the Park this weekend? but under threat if we don’t start valuing them now
England’s Tree Strategy is out for consultation
Bus stops for bees?
Investing in Green Infrastructure – part of the Covid-19 response?
Parks and Green Spaces must be part of the solution for climate action
Bringing Nature to Brum
West Midland National Park to lead the regions recovery
In Praise of Parks – words from Chief Executive of APSE – Paul O’Brien
APSE Training Courses on Parks Management – introduction and advanced
A Parks Response to Covid-19
A Parks Response to Covid-19 and a report produced by Community First Partnership in association with APSE, LGA, Midland Parks Forum, Heritage Fund and the National Trust. Excellent guidance published here. (3/06/20)
Making our Cities Wild Again
Latest APSE Guidance and Bulletins
Post Covid Recovery Planning
Guidance for recovery for sites and in particular country sites
The Royal Parks virtually
We recognise not everyone can come to the Royal Parks right now, so we want to bring the Royal Parks to you. Be prepared to escape into the nature, heritage and beauty of our incredible green spaces from the comfort of your own home.
Green Cities Webinars from TCPA
Missed those parks webinars. They are here to watch
Recovery will happen in Public Space
Integrating Health into Urban Planning
These resources and tools can be used by everyone involved in the planning process. Whether you are an urban planner, mayor, developer, architect, landscape architect, engineer, researcher or public health professional, doctor, nurse, community health worker or local community activist, this document aims to inform and inspire you, while also providing practical information on how to take action.
History and Pandemics and the role of green spaces
The Impact of Covid-19 and wildflowers blooming
The importance of gardens in lockdown
Why we are craving the outdoors in the lockdown
Tree Talks and Tree Trails
Funding Crisis as a result of Covid-19
Nature and Lockdown
Time to rethink education and the natural world
Place Making and Green Infrastructure
Should those living near public spaces pay more taxes?