The Groundsman

March 2014

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STATE OF THE INDUSTRY 22 the Groundsman March 2014 Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions here's a very large dark cloud on the horizon: local authority parks budgets have already been reduced by at least 30 per cent and there is more expectation that local communities will take on the regular maintenance of parks. And for the 2014- 2015 financial year, a further round of budget cuts are being implemented across the UK. Many local councils are now also cutting childrens' play provision or reducing maintenance to such a low level that very soon we will have bucolic landscapes that will run out of control. This is ironic following our Olympic success and particularly the way the world witnessed the Games being held in one of the most beautifully-created landscapes imaginable – a project that also delivered a regeneration scheme After years of investment and improvement, parks and sports grounds are being threatened by the current financial austerity measures, as Dr Sid Sullivan reveals and gave us the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London's first new major park in over 150 years. Innovative planting and habitat creation coupled with expert groundscare, planning and design has created a vibrant park along with new forms of community engagement, attracting funding leverage and private sector partnerships - many with the benefit of Heritage Lottery Fund support. It is, therefore, astonishing that our local and national parks are still under threat from budgetary cuts and reductions. More amazing is the fact that the Olympic Charter asserts that "the practice of sport is a human right" and the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child 1959, Principle 7, states "the child shall have full opportunity for play and recreation....". Crunch year for parks and sports grounds By: Dr Sid Sullivan Cuts, cuts, cuts… A GreenSpace survey in reaction to the 2011/12 budget cuts revealed: • 82 per cent of local authority parks and green space team face cuts • 80 per cent are reducing staff numbers – including skilled horticulturalists (17 per cent of losses) as well as arborists, landscape designers and apprentices • 70 per cent said they will have reduced ability to provide attractive and welcoming sites, and 80 per cent said they expect quality standards to fall. In 2012, it was reported: • Tameside Council was facing a £1m cut to its grass cutting/street cleaning budget. • Sheffield City Council announced proposed cuts of £1.2m - 17 per cent of the £7m it spends on parks, woodlands and open spaces. Cost- saving measures included merging and reducing parks and open space teams. • Liverpool's green space management budget was set to be cut by £1m (to £8.8m). • The London Borough of Merton was considering handing over some parks to local community groups, following budget cuts. More recently, Wrexham Council has closed playgrounds and leisure centres, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council was considering reductions in leisure services and Liverpool Council is considering cuts of up to 50 per cent for its parks and leisure services. Can we always expect to see displays like this? T

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