On the first day of summer, the UK's political leaders were asked to champion the UK's parks and green spaces. The Charter for Parks was launched on the longest day of the year by a coalition of organisations including Fields in Trust who call on Prime Minister Theresa May and First Ministers Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones to celebrate these spaces so vital for all communities and take action to safeguard them.
The Charter was delivered to Westminster by children from Tottenham who are regular users of their local park. At the Scottish Parliament representatives from Friends of Parks Groups in Edinburgh gathered in a green space beside Holyrood to launch the Charter for Parks in Scotland.
The coalition of organisations calls on the UK's political leadership to:
Chair of the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces, Dave Morris, said: "Time is running out for local parks across the UK. Continuous budget cuts to staffing and maintenance are leaving them vulnerable to neglect and deterioration, or even sell offs. Many people think local councils are legally responsible for maintaining local parks and open spaces but unfortunately, unlike waste collection, that’s not the case yet.
"Our Parks Charter calls on the leaders of all four home nations to take action to ensure these essential and highly-popular public resources are properly funded, managed, maintained, and protected for current and future generations.
"As the voice of the movement of more than 6,000 local Friends of Parks Groups throughout the UK we recognise the immense contribution that these community volunteers are playing. Now it’s time for government to show an equal commitment to act. The public will not forgive political leaders who let the sun set on the UK's parks."
Fields in Trust's recent research identifies that parks and green spaces deliver £34 billion in community health and wellbeing value, we need to ensure parks are protected if we are to continue to benefit from the contribution they make to physical and mental health. Fields in Trust Chief Executive, Helen Griffiths, said: "Our research demonstrates that parks and green spaces have proven physical and mental health benefits. These are valuable places; places where we can all move, breathe, run and play. We need to champion and support these precious spaces by protecting them for people to enjoy in perpetuity. Because once lost, they are lost forever."
Chief Executive of greenspace scotland, Julie Procter, said: "Scotland's parks are one of our national treasures, but they face an increasingly uncertain future. Like many public services, they have been feeling the pinch; and with no legal duty to maintain parks, too often they are seen as an easy budget cut.
"Parks really are our natural health service, our children's outdoor classrooms, our cities' green lungs – essential to our quality of life, our sense of place and community. Yet we are rapidly approaching a tipping point leading to the downward spiral of reduced maintenance, poorer quality greenspaces and lower levels of use. We call on politicians, organisations and park users to stand up for parks and support the Charter."
Community groups and organisations throughout the UK are being urged to sign up to the new Charter online.