Budget cuts put parks in need of urgent attention

Parks and green spaces are falling into disrepair because of damning budget cuts, says UNISON.

According to figures published today (Thursday), more than £15m has been cut from parks and green spaces budgets between 2016/17 and 2018/19.

The figures were obtained through a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to the councils responsible for parks in Britain.

More than half (59%) of the 172 local authorities that responded had cut their parks and green spaces budgets between 2016/17 and 2018/19.

The biggest cut was in Warwickshire County Council, which slashed its parks and green spaces budget by 87% in just one year, reducing spending from £108,268 in 2016/17 to £14,184 in 2017/18.

Local authorities are struggling to fulfil their statutory responsibilities like social care and children’s services because of cuts from central government funding. This is having a knock on effect to other services like parks, which aren’t getting the resources or attention they deserve, says UNISON.

UNISON is supporting the Charter for Parks, launched today by a coalition of national organisations including the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces, Keep Britain Tidy and Friends of the Earth. The charter calls for a legal duty to maintain parks to a minimum standard and a committing to ensuring they have the funding, resources and protection they need.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Parks and green spaces are a vital local service, contributing to the health and well-being of communities in many ways.

“But years of funding cuts have left many of our parks run-down, under-staffed, and in need of urgent attention.

“Clearly something needs to change which is why UNISON is campaigning for a new and fair funding settlement for local government. We are calling on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to use his November Budget to address the massive and disastrous funding shortfall that the UK’s councils are facing.”

Notes to editors:
– A copy of the report is available here

Media contacts:
Anna Mauremootoo T: 0207 121 5555 M: 07903 870786 E: a.mauremootoo@unison.co.uk
Liz Chinchen T: 0203 740 5475 M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk