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Croydon looks to community to help manage parks

Croydon council is planning to get community groups and volunteers to help manage its green spaces to ease financial pressures.

The council considered plans for the future of its parks and green spaces in a cabinet meeting this week. The council said it was committed to keeping green spaces for future generations, but said that it was facing a significant challenge in trying to maintain high-quality services.

A report from the meeting said: “Our vision for Croydon’s parks and green spaces is to ensure that these high-valued community assets are maintained for future generations.

“However, with significant financial pressures and the need to reduce expenditure, the current model service delivery is not sustainable in the long-term and significant changes in the way we do things are required.”

The council said it wanted to encourage “community stewardship”, which it said would require a greater role for the community and residents in organising, managing and taking responsibility or projects, event and services.

Its review of parks was focusing on improving the efficiency of the grounds maintenance contract, and on opportunities to increase revenue from commercial events, and from other sources, it said.

The council’s parks service is responsible for managing and maintaining more than 1,000 hectares of parkland, playgrounds, sports and other facilities. Croydon has 127 different parks and green spaces, as well as 17 allotment sites.

Spending on parks and green spaces is £1.83 million, with the parks service contracted out with a small team of council officers directing and managing grounds maintenance, cleansing, facilities management and tree works contracts.

The report said the council wanted to develop “a partnership with local communities where groups and volunteers are supported and encouraged to take an equal role in and responsibility for the improvement and direct management of parks and green spaces, from raising funds, to volunteering, right through to full management via Community Asset Transfer”.

The council said it would also examine more closely how some of its green spaces are used and look at developing leasing opportunities for sports pitches and other sources of funding, as well as produce a parks events prospectus.

The council will launch a “big conversation” with residents, community groups and other stakeholders this summer to consult about its plans for parks and green spaces.

Feedback will be used in shaping and implementing the Parks and Green Spaces Delivery Plan.

Councillor Timothy Godfrey, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said: “We know that Croydon residents love our open spaces and we’re fortunate to have many parks volunteers and friends groups, so who better to involve in shaping the way they are used for decades to come? I look forward to having this conversation with everyone who shares the council’s ambitions to improve our award-winning parks and open spaces even more.”

– See more at: http://www.fm-world.co.uk/news/fm-industry-news/croydon-looks-to-community-to-help-manage-parks/#sthash.wfG3PLNw.dpuf

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