A PARKS Trust should be set up to safeguard the future of Liverpool’s parks and green spaces, a new report recommends.
The Strategic Green and Open Spaces Review Board was set up by the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, to investigate alternative funding arrangements for green spaces in light of continuing cuts in government funding.
The review started in January 2015 and included public meetings and stakeholder workshops; reviewing information and submissions to the Board’s website; surveying and mapping 1253 green and open spaces across the city and meeting with a range of key local, regional and national organisations to gather evidence, research best practice and consider alternative financial and operational models for green spaces.
An interim report was published in December 2015.
As well as financial issues the review looked at the contribution of green and open spaces to health and wellbeing; the opportunities they offer for education and the resilience they provide to future environmental challenges.
Among the main recommendations in the review’s final report are:
- The setting up of a Parks Trust should be explored. This would maintain, preserve and enhance parks and green spaces which would remain in the city council’s ownership. If a trust was established it would free the open spaces from financial constraints the city council faces. It is suggested that clusters, each containing a large park and other green spaces, could be established under a single Charitable Federal Parks Trust,
- Revenue generated by assets within the parks should be ring-fenced for future maintenance of them
- External funding sources should be used to attract the capital and investment needed in green spaces. An application to bid for Heritage Lottery funding of between £100,000 and £250,000 to build capacity, achieve significant strategic change and develop a new framework for parks should be considered. The report also endorses the city council’s recent work to develop an EU horizon funding bid which could attract funding support for research and investment in developing green corridors in urban city locations.
- A proposed Green Web – a network of linking green corridors – should be taken forward in the Local Plan and a number of projects should be explored and fast-tracked.
The Board was chaired by actor, TV presenter and environmentalist Simon O’Brien. He said: “The release of the final report concludes a fascinating journey of discovery for me around a city I love. This unique, independent review will, I sincerely hope, help the city Of Liverpool continue to maintain and enhance its incredible unbuilt environment.
“It has been drawn up with three questions constantly running through my mind. How do we look after our precious green spaces as Central Government ruthlessly slashes local council budgets? How do we better protect our public parks and wild areas? How do we better use these amazing places in the future?
“I hope that the final report is not the end but the start of a journey which can answer these questions. This is not a local issue, this is a subject of national importance and Liverpool can, as it has so many times in the past, lead the way on into the 21st century.
“I have met people whose wish is to walk on water, some who take horseplay seriously and others who dream of flying over the city on a green carpet. Just some of the many voices in the final report of the Strategic Green and Open Spaces Review.”
Mayor Anderson said: “This report is an extremely valuable contribution on how we address the challenges facing us on our green spaces.
“Liverpool is extremely well served by the number and quality of parks and open spaces and they are highly valued by the public. However, maintaining them comes at a high cost and as the government intends to reduce its funding by another £90m by 2020 we have to find different ways of doing things. I asked Simon and the other board members to look at how we can fund our parks in the future and make the best use of them – it is a review independent of the city council.
“The review sets out a number of possibilities including exploring the Parks Trust model.
“It is a very interesting option to meet the challenge how our parks and green spaces can not only be maintained but improved and it is a proposal we will actively consider.
“The interim report contained many interesting ideas and we have already taken forward some of the proposals. For example, we are using £1m of funding from developers to invest in refurbishment and provision of play areas, we have launched a new Environmental Initiative Fund and identified a site for a new park in Kirkdale.
“Now we have this final report which is the first major report of my second term of office and we will look to see how the council can take its findings forward over the next four years.
“I would like to thank Simon and the other Board members for producing such a thorough and thought-provoking report.”
In total the report contains 38 recommendations. Other proposals include
- Maintenance of the city’s green and open spaces should be reduced
to 50 to 70% of its current levels if transitional funding cannot be secured before 2017/8 until a sustainable form of financing becomes available
- A review of the commercial opportunities for the city’s green and open spaces be undertaken to identify sites where activities and/or businesses can be promoted to increase revenue.
- All commercial for-profit events held in the city’s green spaces are charged appropriate licensing fees that cover the reinstatement costs and make a financial contribution to ongoing site maintenance
- A ‘Green and Open Spaces ‘Ambassadors Programme’ should be created
- A series of interventions to make more effective and visible links between the city’s green and open spaces and improve the health of the city’s population should be introduced
- The City Council should work with partners to identify and energise ‘A Forest School For Every School’ starting with the newly created public woodland at
Woolton Woods being developed as a Forest School
The report can be read in full at liverpool.gov.uk/greenandopenspaces