A second COVID-19 Parks Resilience Survey, conducted by APSE with the Midlands Parks Forum, has revealed the vast majority of parks remain open for public use.
Key findings are as follows: -
Urban parks remain open
When it comes to Country Parks a similar picture emerges
Decisions to close Country Parks have been made through adherence to Government guidance on social distancing and, in the main, decisions to close just a few of the Country Parks, available to the public, have been made due to the public travelling from outside of local areas.
Social Distancing in Parks
In terms of those groups who flout rules most frequently the number of groups of youths, being reported as not observing social distancing, has increased from the last survey with 75.86% of respondents suggesting that amongst the minority who disregard social distancing this is the most prevalent group. However, there are also reports of
These figures suggest the vast majority of the public are respecting social distancing but parents may be unaware that teenagers, out on their daily exercise, without them, are using the opportunity to meet up with friends, as the length of the lockdown continues.
Park Visitor Numbers
Respondents suggest that decreases seem to correlate by park type with Country Parks attracting less visitors from outside of the local area which is often attributable to those parks being used as tourist destinations. This was the aim of the way in which these parks have been managed, with the closure of car parks, to deter out of area visitors. In other parks and urban green space usage is reported as markedly higher as the public use their local areas for their daily exercise.
Parks and Public Realm Maintenance
Speaking about the survey findings, Paul O’Brien, APSE’s Chief Executive said, “This survey is really a testament to the professionalism of the local council Parks Managers. They were tasked with keeping these valuable assets open to the public, but safely, and almost all parks have, and remain, open, during the lockdown."
Chris Worman, Supporter of the Midlands Parks Forum and member of the Parks Action Group, said, “By taking actions to encourage local use for safe exercise, whilst discouraging car usage to out of area visitors, parks have remained open for everyone’s enjoyment. Social distancing remains a challenge for some groups of users but parks managers, and local councillors, who are hugely supportive of their local parks, have handled these issues with integrity and sensitivity.”
Ian Baggot, of the Midlands Parks Forum, who partnered the survey said, “In recent weeks the value and role of our local parks has hit the headlines, but occasionally with negative press around park closures and social distancing. The evidence tells a very different story. Parks are open and in the main the public are being very responsible about how they use their local assets.
“The past six weeks have shown just how important our parks are. The pandemic has raised so many issues about their role in society: how they're funded and managed, how equitably they're distributed, and of course now the big question is how we move out of lockdown and the part that parks will play in recovery”.
The survey attracted 107 respondent councils and was conducted between the 23 April and the 5 May.
The survey will be seen as informative to public policy as the UK bank holiday / VE day celebrations are due to take place on Friday 8 May
The survey respondents were evenly distributed across the UK with respondents consisting of 32% district councils, 20.3% Unitary Authorities, 15.5% Metropolitan Boroughs, 4.8% Counties and 4.8% Town Councils, 6.8% Scottish Unitaries, 1% Welsh Unitary and 1% Northern Ireland Councils
Paul O’Brien, is Chief Executive of APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) which is a not-for-profit organisation working with over 300 UK wide local councils
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