On behalf of Bristol Parks Forum
Ideas for Inclusion in Budget Response and / or Letters to Councillors / MPs
Below are ideas and suggestions for the type of things you might want to include in your response to the budget consultation or letter to your Councillor or MP. Many of these came out of the Parks Forum meeting on 30th November. Please also add your own thoughts and fears.
We need to make our views known now, respond by 23rd December. The decisions on the budget will be made before the full impacts of the cuts become apparent.
Try to look at your own park or green space and imagine a world where Parks Service input is reduced by 25%
If you are responding as an individual, then do include something about how it will impact you personally.
The consultation document & link to the survey is here:
The Parks Service proposal is in Section 2 under the title Other ideas, consultation may be required and may follow. Note – there is no guarantee of further consultation.
The online consultation has 18 pages which you have to move through in turn. There are 3 pages of introduction; 1 on Council Tax; 6 pages of Section 1 proposals; 6 of Section 2; 1 for free text comments and 1 page at the end – About You.
For each of the proposed cuts you select whether you strongly agree, agree, neither, disagree or strongly disagree. None of the questions are compulsory, only the final question (No 35) allows text, this is where you need to state your views.
The question on the Parks Service is in on page 5 of Section 2, it is item GR12_A – question number 33.
Please make the effort to submit a response!
Please also read our Briefing note:
Find your Councillor here:
Find your MP here:
Consultation closes 23rd December 2022
We understand the difficult financial position the Council is in but the proposed cut to Parks Service funding will have a huge detrimental impact on our parks & green spaces.
The proposed cuts of £1.5m pounds will reduce spending on parks and green spaces by around 25%.
It is very hard to comment on the budget cuts without any details about what the figures and text in the consultation document mean, but it is clear that cuts on this scale will have a significant detrimental impact.
These cuts will not be for just one year, the lower spending rate will continue for the foreseeable future.
The Parks Service has already been cut to the bone following a series of cuts over the last 10 or more years. Further cuts will have a significant impact, there is a danger that the Parks Service as we know it will cease to exist.
The proposed cuts are more than the current budget so the Council is suggesting that somehow the Parks Service can make a profit to support other departments.
Given that some items can’t be cut (eg staff in cafés who bring in income), the impact on day to day grass cutting and bin emptying might be more than the overall 25%.
There is a large figure in the budget for 2023/24 which we believe is designed to cover redundancy payments to parks staff.
Reports on the Value of Parks & Green Spaces – to use to support your views
The value of Parks and Green Spaces for Health & Well Being is underlined in research and reports, including reports by the Government’s own advisory bodies:
- Improving Access to Green Space, Public Health England
- Public Parks and Green Spaces Matter, Historic England
- RESEARCH: New research shows UK parks and green spaces generate over £34 billion of health and wellbeing benefits, Fields in Trust
- Green Space and Health , Houses of Parliament
Impact on the City
Parks and green spaces are part of what makes Bristol, Bristol. They are part of what attracts people to the City and enhance its reputation. See recent Guardian report on the greenest cities in the country – www.theguardian.com/travel/2022/nov/24/study-reveals-britains-greenest-cities-and-they-are-all-in-the-south
Parks and Green Spaces provide valuable, free to use spaces for residents, particularly during the financial crisis. They are the only place many Bristol residents can afford to go for recreation, children’s play, clean air, etc.
Health & Well-being – parks are extremely valuable for people’s health and well-being including mental health, and this is well documented.
Parks are part of the city’s social services.
Cutting Parks budget will impact on the City’s ability to tackle the Ecological and Climate Emergencies, and the Parks’ contribution to this.
Satisfaction with the quality of parks & green spaces will fall, impacting on the reputation of the City.
Reduced levels of maintenance will impact the lower quality parks first, as a result the impact of these cuts is likely to be greater on the more deprived parts of the City, where people are already less satisfied with the quality of their parks & green spaces.
Many targets in the One City Plan relating to parks are unlikely to be met, for example:
- By 2025 – 80% of residents in every ward visit a park and green space once per week
- By 2028 – There has been a sustained increase in public engagement with biodiversity, with conservation volunteering and pro-environmental behaviours widespread
- By 2030 – The design of the built and natural environment contributes to improving public health and reducing health inequalities.
- By 2038 – The percentage of people who volunteer or who help out in their community at least three times a year has increased to 80%
- By 2041 – Everyone has access to excellent quality green spaces within a 10-minute walk from their home
Impacts on Parks & Green Spaces
Reduction in maintenance, mowing, frequency of bin emptying and litter picking will lead very quickly to a decline in quality & appearance. People want to visit parks and feel safe. With a reduction in the level of service, there will be fewer visitors, more fly tipping, ASB, graffiti etc – a downward spiral which is going to be extremely hard to reverse.
Funding is critical to maintain parks play spaces as less well off families rely upon these spaces as they cannot pay for other leisure or recreation activities.
If income can be derived from some Parks this needs to fund all the Parks so that we do not end up with a tier system with some elite parks with funding; and others which are maintained at a lower standard.
The long-term impact will be a population which has less opportunity to take exercise in natural spaces, leading to an increase in people being less healthy.
Reduced funding for repairs will mean more play equipment and other facilities, such as benches, are removed as they become unsafe.
Plans to improve the way parks & green spaces are managed for nature will be delayed or abandoned altogether.
Parks will become less accessible as repairs to paths, gateways etc are not carried out.
Impacts on Park Groups
Volunteers can only offer an “cherry on the cake” a contribution to maintaining parks, not replace the work that Parks staff do.
If parks were transferred other organisations (eg park groups if any were willing) reliant on external funding, commercialisation, grants, etc it would lead to competition between these organisations, and cuts across the fundraising opportunities for Your Park Bristol & Bath. External funding is limited and setting parks against each other to raise funds would not be conducive to close working of groups across Bristol.
There is only a limited number of funding sources, many are focused currently on cost of living crisis support not parks and open spaces.
The increase in visitors to parks in the pandemic has not translated into more volunteers for most groups, there is a limited pool of volunteers and increasing calls on their time – eg food banks etc.
If basic maintenance and then quality is reduced, volunteers will lose heart and numbers of volunteers will decrease
Volunteers and Park groups are already frustrated by the lack of response to emails and lack of other communication from the Parks Service, this will get worse.
Our volunteers do not want to take on responsibility for parks, they want to work in partnership with the Council.
Impacts on Me
My greatest fears are a return to the bad old days, with burnt out cars and anti-social behaviour making the area a no-go area.
These proposals will mean the effects of my efforts over the last xx years will be thrown away.
I will certainly not be taking on activities currently undertaken by paid staff.
Bristol Parks Forum