Open spaces in urban areas have existed for as long as urban areas have existed. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the Wonders of the World, while La Alameda de Hércules – a promenaded public mall, garden and park in Seville – was one of the earliest parks, being opened in 1574.
Cities such as Paris could revel in formal gardens. London’s equivalent was Vauxhall Gardens, which are believed to have opened before 1660. And Britain started seriously creating parks in our towns and cities in the 19th century, seeing them as ways of helping to improve public health.
But those parks are now under an increasing threat, as local councils find their funding being cut and then cut again.
As we reported in February, the threat is already being seen through reductions in opening times, closure of public toilets and increases in litter and the number of rats being spotted.
As with libraries, volunteers are being considered by some councils as a way of tackling the problems, even as new housing developments are “nibbling away” at our green spaces.
But parks are used by everyone, young and old – irrespective of income. They’re good for our health, our environment, for leisure and recreation, for children playing and for adults contemplating.
We want to explore the issue further and build up a more detailed picture of what’s happening to our parks – and we need your help to do it.
What is your experience?
What is happening with your local park?
Have there been cuts that have affected it?
How is the park used?
What does your park mean to you and your family?
Does the council allow events to be staged there to raise money?