The world’s population is becoming increasingly more urbanised and as a result, the demand on green space has become greater, both in terms of areas for new development and as areas for public recreation. Added to this, parks and green spaces have been given greater recognition due to their ability to promote and provide the environment to improve our health and general wellbeing. As places for exercise, for exposure to cultural events, and for contact with the environment, parks show themselves to be a vital part of our everyday lives especially as many of us are now increasingly confined to home, commuting and our places of work.
Despite their value, parks and greenspaces are facing unprecedented budgetary cuts which are threatening their future existence. The APSE 2015 State of the Market Survey on Parks, revealed that 93% of parks managers expected revenue for parks to decrease in 2016 and capital investment to decrease by 71% over the same period. More worryingly, 80% of the same respondents expected their parks budgets to decrease by up to 20% over the coming five years. It is against this backdrop of fiscal unsurity, APSE’s 2016 Annual Parks Seminar intends to give colleagues some hope, by exposing them to innovative approaches to securing the long-term future of these valuable environmental assets.
The seminar is a must attend event for those officers and members who want to look at new ways of dealing with parks and greenspace issues, including obtaining the data to prove how important these resources are to the general public along with the measurable benefits they bring both soocial, economic and environmental. How to develop partnerships with like-minded bodies who can help not only finance new developments, but also bring a new perspective on the future role and value of parks and green spaces as income generators. Linked to this, is learning how to tackle the more operational issues, some of which can drain valuable resources whilst contributing little to the overall health of the environment.
APSE acknowledges that parks managers may need to look to non-professionals to help maintain parks in the future, but equally acknowledges there will always be a need for managerial and horticultural skills which enthusiastic amateurs cannot provide, therefore there are case studies within the seminar to support this view.
As an active advocate for local authority parks and green space services, APSE will continue to argue that public parks must be funded by public money, because income generation and different funding sources will only help the sustainability of parks, and should not be seen as the solution. However, through providing a range of diverse and interesting speakers, APSE hopes to show there are options available and that there is still light at the end of the tunnel for our parks and green spaces and hopes that the information provided will help colleagues to be able to make that journey.
Charlie Cumming, Chief Executive
Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust
Gary McManus, Operations Manager
Birmingham City Council