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07.10.16

Liverpool mayor ‘actively considering’ proposals for a parks trust

Liverpool should establish a trust in order to safeguard the city’s parks, a Strategic Green and Open Spaces Review Board established by mayor Joe Anderson has concluded.

The review, chaired by actor, TV presenter and environmentalist Simon O’Brien, said that the trust was the only way to ensure sustainable funding for the parks.

This will enable them to remain in the council’s ownership, but protect their budget from constraints caused by central government funding cuts.

O’Brien said: “This unique, independent review will, I sincerely hope, help the city of Liverpool continue to maintain and enhance its incredible unbuilt environment.

“It has been drawn up with three questions constantly running through my mind. How do we look after our precious green spaces as central government ruthlessly slashes local council budgets? How do we better protect our public parks and wild areas? How do we better use these amazing places in the future?

“I hope that the final report is not the end but the start of a journey which can answer these questions. This is not a local issue, this is a subject of national importance and Liverpool can, as it has so many times in the past, lead the way on into the 21st century.”

The State of the UK Public Parks 2016 report from the Heritage Lottery Fund found that councils’ parks and green spaces budgets have suffered cuts of around 18.4% or £240m.

The new review warned that without sustainable funding, maintenance activity in Liverpool’s parks may have to be reduced by 30-50%. In addition, it said that revenue generated by parks should be ring-fenced to help maintain them in the future.

It also recommended other funding options, including reinvesting £1.3m efficiency savings from the city’s crematoria in its parks, seeking greater business investment in some areas, and bidding for £100,000 - £250,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund in order to achieve significant strategic change. Plans to encourage the local community’s engagement with parks were also proposed, including ensuring that every city resident lives within 300m of a green space and establishing a ‘forest school’ for every local school.

Joe Anderson, the mayor of Liverpool, said he would “actively consider” the proposal to establish a parks trust. He added that Liverpool City Council had already introduced some of the proposals, including a £1m fund for the refurbishment of play areas and a new Environmental Initiative Fund.

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