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Save our public parks and gardens

Last updated: Friday, April 15, 2016 - Save & Share

A manufacturer of metal railings and gates is calling for the public, local authorities and the landscaping and building industries to get on board a campaign to save Britain’s public parks and gardens.


Alpha Rail wrote to Perimeter Systems Online One urging everyone to sign up and show their support to The Parks Alliance, which was established in 2013 by 40 key sector executives from across the UK to provide a single unified voice for parks and green spaces and to address the serious funding crisis in the sector.


It has conducted analysis of the British Household Panel Survey to show that people are happier when living in urban areas with large amounts of green spaces, showing significantly lower mental distress levels and higher well-being.


Alpha Rail has been proud to supply metal railings and gates for the regeneration, restoration and maintenance of some of the UK’s much loved public parks, including the Royal Parks in London, Middleton Park in Leeds and Forest Recreation Ground in Nottingham.


Public parks campaignerBut sales director Phil Ball is concerned about how parks will be funded going forward after the Heritage Lottery Fund‘s State of UK Public Parks report found that nearly half of UK councils are considering selling off or otherwise disposing of the management of green spaces under their control.


He says: ‘Clearly public funding will become under increasing pressure and it’s all too easy to overlook the social benefits of a green space when the funding choice is between ensuring a vulnerable person gets the social care they need versus providing park funding so that we all have a nice place to sit in the sun!’


He adds that many experts are predicting that over the next 20 years many of these green spaces will be taken over for building and other commercial projects as Britain attempts to house, feed and entertain its expanding population.


To help solve this conundrum a trial recently took place whereby 11 UK parks received a share of £1m in grant funding and specialist support to explore new ways of raising income or reducing costs. Models tested included greater use of herbaceous and wild meadow planting, public donations, mobilising volunteers and friends groups to help with maintenance and even the creation of pop-up meeting spaces.


Other possible new funding models being tried include ‘park improvement districts’, endowment funds and living legacies, as well as council tax rebates for volunteers and cash-back schemes for communities that manage their own green spaces. It will also look at private sector investment and partnerships. Many parks now host revenue generating events such as outdoor concerts, farmers markets, summer fayres, but these take a huge amount of support to organise.


Ball concludes: ‘It is clear there is no silver bullet to tackling this issue – but we all need to care passionately enough about saving our landscapes and make more of a conscious effort to help maintain them.’


The Parks Alliance will soon announce news of a project to establish a wider connected community network of those who support the aims of the Alliance.

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