Parks are the lungs of our community, However, cuts in spending since 2010 has left many of these valuable green assets fighting for breath.
A new report by APSE Scotland - written and researched with the New Policy Institute (NPI) - examines what has happened to spending on parks and open spaces by Scottish local authorities. To provide context, the report also looks at spending on the wider group of local authority neighbourhood services - the services that local authorities provide that are neither education, social care nor housing.
The main findings are:
Paul O’Brien, Chief Executive of APSE said “Parks and neighbourhood services are universal services. Frustratingly, the contribution of these services to wellbeing and health is often hidden. It has been estimated that parks contribute £2.8bn per year to Scotland’s community health and wellbeing. In turn, this saves NHS Scotland some £9m per year, including fewer GP visits. Neighbourhood services have demonstrated their resilience during these challenging times and we cannot risk these services being hollowed out and unable to respond in the future.”
Chair of APSE Scotland, Cllr Les Sharp said “Though councillors and officers have faced some very tough budget decisions, many out with their direct control, recent events ought to make decision-makers wake up to the consequences of serious underinvestment in our neighbourhood services. Clean and green neighbourhoods are the bedrock for happier and healthier local communities. Furthermore, they are vital to the fight against climate change; supporting biodiversity, absorbing flood water, improving air quality and mitigating urban heat. Future decision making needs to be made through the prism of value rather than just cost, and APSE believes our neighbourhood services have demonstrated their value tenfold throughout this current crisis .”
The past few months have shown just how important our parks are to maintaining the health and well-being of local communities. By bringing into focus the enormous benefits of our greenspace, the pandemic has raised many issues about the role of parks in society: particularly how they are funded. The report demonstrates that the underfunding of neighbourhood services, which has been taking place over the last decade, undermines the very essence of local government and needs to be reversed.
The full report is free to download.
Notes to Editors
This report was written and researched based on data up to August 2019 . Whilst the impact of COVID-19 has had a further impact on parks and neighbourhood services within Scotland this report provides an analysis of the baseline upon which these services responded to the health pandemic and will help to inform public policy going forward.
APSE is a not-for-profit organisation working with over 300 UK wide local authorities. Specialising in supporting frontline services as well as policy development for local councils. APSE Scotland supports all the local councils in Scotland in improving and supporting local government frontline services.
New Policy Institute (NPI) is a UK research institute which produces evidence-based research on a range of social and economic issues. The report authors are Josh Holden and Dr Peter Kenway
To arrange for interview or press features please contact Mo Baines on firstname.lastname@example.org
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