In advance of the General Election on 8th June we launch our Manifesto for Parks. This election presents an opportunity to ensure the UK's parks, playing fields and green spaces are addressed as a vital national issue by the next government. Fields in Trust is championing our green spaces and raising awareness of the positive impact they have on our communities.
Fields in Trust is calling on the next government to recognise the vital contribution that parks and playing fields make to the physical health and mental wellbeing of our communities. In recent months, the nation's green spaces have had significant political attention through the Communities and Local Government Parliamentary Committee Inquiry and its subsequent report into Public Parks, yet the dissolution of Parliament, before CLG Parks Minister Andrew Percy had formally responded to the report, risks the loss of impetus and the issue being overlooked in a crowded legislative programme of the next Parliament.
Writing in the foreword of the manifesto Fields in Trust Chief Executive, Helen Griffiths said:
"Our nation's parks and green spaces are at a critical juncture. In these challenging times, our local spaces are vulnerable to closure and so it is important we stand up to champion the positive impact they have on our society.
"Research has found that 92% of local authority park departments have experienced budget cuts in the past three years and that between 2014 and 2016 a total of 214 playgrounds were closed by 65 local authorities across the UK.
"Fields in Trust's submission to last year's Communities and Local Government Committee's Public Parks Inquiry called for a change in the way public green space is conceived, not as a drain on spending that requires a considerable amount of money to maintain - but rather as an asset which can be deployed to achieve longer term savings and happier, healthier more connected communities.
"It is important that we re-value the enormous contribution our green spaces make to our communities. Ahead of the publication of the Minister's response to the CLG Committee's inquiry report, this General Election offers an opportunity to ensure parks remain central to the debate on how we tackle issues such as healthcare, community cohesion and our children’s development."
Our Manifesto for Parks furthers the calls set out in our CLG Inquiry submission through four policy "green lines".
To demonstrate just how much our parks matter, charity Fields in Trust is encouraging all communities to celebrate their local green spaces, one month after the election, on Saturday 8th July. The national Have a Field Day event will show the many ways people use their public parks and why local communities value them so greatly.