THE lack of funding for parks is a “tragedy” which will irreversibly damage our green spaces, a Councillor has warned.
Councillor Louisa Greenbaum was speaking as members voted on the masterplan to run and manage Brighton and Hove City Council’s parks and green spaces over the next ten years.
However, the Green member for St Peter’s and North Laine said the council’s masterplan, called the Open Spaces Strategy, had “made the best of an unfortunate situation” and set out a good direction.
But she questioned how it had been allowed to get to this stage.
Speaking at the environment, transport and sustainability committee meeting, she said: “It is a tragedy that green spaces have faced these cuts.
“In 20 years we will look back and kick ourselves that we have let this happen. It is going to leave us with damage to our green spaces that can’t be reversed.”
The council’s plan to run parks and green spaces for the next ten years, as previewed in The Argus last week, was voted through unanimously by all parties on the committee.
The proposals were drawn up following one of the council’s most successful consultations, which saw more than 3,500 respond.
Among the measures include giving more responsibility to friends of groups to maintain parks, raising income through increased advertising and allowing residents to mow grass verges.
The council also proposes setting up a Parks Foundation to help with fundraising.
It is designed to tap into the large number of residents and visitors who use and love the city’s open spaces and the charitable nature of businesses in the city.
A similar foundation in Bournemouth raised £100,000 in its first year.
More all-weather sports pitches and natural play equipment are also planned to help reduce maintenance costs.
Councillors from all parties praised the strategy with cllr Lee Wares, Conservative for Patcham, describing it as “brilliant” and a “pleasure to read”.
However, he warned that while the more than 3,500 responded to the consultation, it still only amounted to 1.3 per cent of the population.
He therefore proposed that further views were sought from parks users on the plans before final approval was given.
His proposal was also unanimously agreed.
Among the other committee members to praise the plan was his Conservative colleague Joe Miller, for Rottingdean, who said officers should also look at getting schools to help with volunteering.
Unions have criticised the proposals as “pie-in-the-sky thinking”.
In particular the GMB has said volunteers would never be able to match the expertise of council workers, with standards of parks and green spaces inevitably falling.
First published in the Argus on Thursday 19th January