Public parks are valuable assets where people of all ages can be active whether through play, traditional sports or recreational activities. Green spaces also play an important role in local communities, helping to improve social cohesion and tackle long-term issues such as anti-social behaviour. With a recent report from the BBC suggesting that more than half of councils in the North West are considering selling parks the protection of green spaces is an important topic for the whole of sport and recreation sector.
Responding to today’s survey, Sport and Recreation Alliance CEO, Emma Boggis, said:
“This survey is yet another warning for local and national government to act now to safeguard the future of our parks and green spaces.
"Reduced local authority budgets coupled with rising costs for social care and children’s services mean it should come as no surprise to ministers that 75% of councils feel that the funding squeeze is disproportionately affecting parks and green spaces. And 95% of councils agree that lack of investment in parks and green spaces will have detrimental health and social impacts.
"The government’s sport strategy, Sporting Future, highlights the importance of cross-government working to help get the nation active but these words now need to be translated into firm action if we really are to achieve the outcomes the government wants.
"National policy on local government funding and land use must be properly joined-up to make sure our parks and green spaces are protected.
"We know that parks are vital to improving the physical and mental wellbeing of local people and relieving pressure on our public services, notably health services. If councils are considering cutting funding to parks and green spaces – and in some cases selling off land – this is hugely worrying, not to mention a false economy. Once parks are gone, the significant benefits they bring to individuals and communities will be lost for good."