The crisis facing our parks and open spaces is only going to get worse without proper council staff, says UNISON.
The warning comes after MP said that many parks are under threat as local authorities try to implement cuts in the faced of funding cuts from central government at Westminster.
A report from the Commons communities and local government committee reveals that budgets to maintain parks are being cut by up to 97%.
The scale of these cuts affects them in many ways, from reduced opening hours to increased litter, from the removal of play equipment and the closure of public toilets to an increase rise in vandalism and the number of rats spotted.
One measures being considered in some areas is increased use of volunteers to look after parks.
The report was the committee’s seventh look at the state of more than 27,000 parks and green spaces across the UK.
“Public parks and green spaces are an important part of local communities, but many are under threat from shrinking budgets as councils look for further cuts,” said UNISON in response to the release of the committee’s findings.
“When previously surveyed by UNISON, a number of park users have raised their concerns about fewer park rangers and falling quality of services.
“Without council staff to maintain and improve our parks and open spaces, growing problems like litter, vandalism and ageing play equipment will only get worse.”
The committee has said that the squeeze means parks face a return to the neglect of the 1980s and 1990s unless it is recognised they are “much more than just grass and tulips” and innovative management and funding measures are found.
It adds that housing demand is also putting parks at risk, with new homes “nibbling away” at green spaces in some parts of the country.