York’s new vision for its parks

1 Aug 2013 @ 1.57 pm
| News

Issued by City of York Council

City of York Council will be building on existing levels of voluntary support to allow the community to take the lead on the maintenance and development of its parks.

Following her decision session, Cllr Sonja Crisp, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism, said: “The legacy of Government’s reduction in local authority funding means we must make £750,000 savings in the next two years which require a different approach to the way we run our parks, if they are to continue to flourish.

“An even greater level of community involvement in the management and operation of the parks is being offered to communities. Along with a package of support and training, we want to work with these groups to ensure that the community’s parks are developed and animated in ways that meet local need and add to the quality of the environment.

“Community involvement in the city’s parks is already strong and long-standing.

“Friends groups at Rowntree Park and West Bank Park have been in existence for nearly 20 years; Tang Hall Residents’ Association has invested estate improvement money into Hull Road Park; bowlers at Clarence and West Bank Park have invested club funds into the greens, while Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has introduced food-growing projects at Glen Gardens and Hull Road Park.

“We want Green Flags flying in each park, under-pinned by strong community leadership.”

The work will be divided between three distinct groups; the council, the community and partners in the voluntary sector.

The council will provide the strategic overview and agree with the community the management plan for each site. It will ensure sites are safe by, for example, inspecting and caring for trees and power supplies, and will carry out necessary building and maintenance tasks.

Council officers will support the community to become more involved and to take a lead in parks management, create links into local community groups and commission activities in parks that children and young people will be able to carry on, on their own.

It will also help local communities and sports clubs work together, encourage appropriate events and festivals to bring the parks to life.

Partners including Community Payback, York Cares and wildlife charities will bring specialist skills and access to funding opportunities.

While the community will adopt the overview of how its local park is managed and developed, it will help fund-raise, lend a hand with maintenance and run events such as summer fairs, while managing and maintaining specific facilities such as buildings – as exemplified by the group considering injecting the West Bank Park keepers’ house with new use and life – and bowling greens.

Each green costs the council around £7,000 per annum to maintain. In view of the significant savings the council is required to make, a charge of £2,000 per green will be levied – which still represents a £5,000 subsidy and a number of clubs will continue to enjoy using additional facilities such as pavilions at no charge.

Clubs can choose to do some of maintenance themselves if they prefer, which would be discounted off the charge.

The council has been offering support for clubs on running their affairs including building and retaining membership and, via the national governing body, funding opportunities. Horticultural training is also being offered for self maintenance of greens.

Associations and clubs will be asked to confirm their intentions for the 2014 season this September; this will determine what winter maintenance is undertaken.


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