Did you know that some councils are actively considering withdrawing all funding from parks in 2019 in response to on-going austerity measures.
There is a view emerging in some areas that all parks should be income generating and a variety of pay to use models are being actively considered. The outcomes of these worrying policy considerations, in terms of public responses are being watched closely by councils across England in relation to what can and cannot be pushed through in a locality.
Bristol is one of the first of such authorities to declare a commitment to removing all funding from Bristol parks. Stockport could be next?
The Bristol Parks Forum has launched a petition urging Bristol City Council to reconsider plans to withdraw funding for parks completely by the 2019/20 financial year. The council has earmarked parks as a service which it wants to become self-funding in its 2017-22 Corporate Strategy.
What I feel is most concerning in the Bristol case is the objection from the local parks forum itself. There is no sense of this consideration being seen as being beyond the pale or just plain wrong, nor any sense that a commitment to create and manage safe green community spaces is a marker of a civilised society and an investment in all our futures; but what is expressed is that their concern is referenced in terms of the necessary time frames to privatise these public spaces not being adequate. What has happened to society that this kind of thinking is somehow deemed acceptable on any level?
Equally concerning at a time when our NHS is being swamped by demand borne of an ageing society and put simply bad lifestyle choices that the access to managed green space in local parks is to be rationed, when all the available evidence states quite clearly engaging with green space reduces demands on health services and directly contributes to wellbeing. Equally clear evidence is also emerging that links the crisis in mental health for children and young people as being directly accentuated by a failure to engage with the great outdoors.