Alliance reaction to public parks inquiry

The Communities and Local Government Committee has published its public parks inquiry report which sets out key messages from the evidence gathered and recommendations for national and local government.

The inquiry asked three key questions: why parks matter, what challenges are facing the parks sector and how to secure a sustainable future for parks. The Alliance responded, on behalf of our members, by setting out the value of parks as spaces for physical activity which can bring health, social and economic benefits. 

Read our full summary of the latest report from the Communities and Local Government Committee public parks inquiry here

The Committee makes recommendations for national policy making including:

  • the Communities and Local Government Minister should work with colleagues in Defra to ensure that parks, and green infrastructure more widely, are properly recognised in the Government’s forthcoming 25-year Environment Plan

  • the Minister and cross-departmental group should identify what action can be taken to improve the provision of green spaces – for example, by accessing funds available under public health strategies such as the Obesity Strategy

  • the Minister should consider legislating to place a statutory duty on local authorities to collaborate with Health and Wellbeing Boards to prepare and publish joint parks and green spaces strategies

The Committee also recommends that local authorities should:

  • work collaboratively with relevant groups of park users to identify the range of ways in which they can contribute to their parks

  • take a whole-place approach when updating their Local Plans which recognises the importance of parks and green spaces both to existing and new communities

James Allen, Director of Policy, Governance and External Affairs responded to the report by saying:

“It is pleasing to see that the Committee heard our message and the report recognises the valuable role parks can play in providing opportunities for people to be active, bringing communities together and supporting the local economy. We support calls for joined-up working to maximise the potential of parks and green spaces and hope that sport and recreation organisations will be able to play a part in those discussions.

“We recognise that the current economic climate is challenging and new ways of working and funding should be explored. However, sport, recreation and leisure budgets must not be seen as the easy option to cut in times of limited resources. Decision-makers should recognise the long-term savings that getting people active can have.

“Park users, many of who are volunteers, already make a significant contribution to parks, for example by creating safe and engaging spaces or running activities for the local community. We would like to see opportunities for generating additional or alternative funding being sought through developing local infrastructure, for example parking and cafes.”