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23/06/2015

Funding cuts threat to London’s parks

Words: Huw Morris
Potters Fields Park

Government funding cuts are threatening the future of London's parks, with many “sliding towards privatisation”, according to the capital’s boroughs.

London councils, which represents 32 boroughs and the City of London, said councils will soon be unable to support community groups and volunteers that have been vital to maintaining the capital’s green spaces.

It warns of a “slide towards privately-run parks by the end of the decade”. Council budgets have been slashed by 47 per cent in real terms since 2010, forcing some parks towards a “tipping point”.

London Councils said in the past four years boroughs’ spending on open spaces allowing for inflation has dropped by 18 per cent, with a fall of more than 10 per cent in 2014/15 alone.

Transport and environment committee chair Julian Bell said: “London’s parks are at a crossroads and we cannot continue as we have in the past – the money simply isn’t there. If we pass the tipping point communities risk losing control of parks, along with democratic accountability for open spaces they value so much.

“By harnessing the time and expertise community groups offer boroughs have been able to continue caring for these precious areas of green space for relaxation and lay, not to mention the health benefits they offer.”

Daniel Raven-Ellison, who is campaigning for London to become the world’s first urban national park that encompasses an entire city, commented: “For generations, Londoners have had a long tradition of protecting, conserving, enjoying and benefiting from our parks. It’s part of what makes London a greater, healthier, more beautiful, resilient and prosperous city. It would be a shocking scandal if we were the generation to eat away that the incredible work that has been done so far, leaving our children to less space and opportunity to be happy, healthy and well.”

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