CROYDON COMMENTARY: Landscape architect LEWIS WHITE says that our parks, public gardens and open spaces are too precious to allow to be allowed to rot for lack of money, and says that now is a time for action
Parks give great value for money spent, and allow people of all ages to visit, whether to look at the trees, grass, shrubs and flowers, to sit, walk, wheel their wheelchair or push children in a buggy or push chair, or even to ride the bicycle these days, or to use the play area or ball court, or the outdoor gym. And if there’s a bandstand, perhaps enjoy the occasional band concert or, as at Wandle Park, a summertime movie or play.
Parks without such features tend to be bland and boring. Alright for a jog or dog walk, but usually no more than OK.
Without them, parents would go mad indoors – children and their parents or guardians, and grandparents all need fresh air, space and open landscape, reasonably close to where people live. Office workers would have nowhere to eat their sandwiches, and we all need sunshine to live happily and healthily.
The costs to the nation’s health will be far higher in terms of mental illness, obesity and if parks are degraded.
Thus, parks are a release valve for the pressure cooker society in which we live.
Many of our parks are maintained very effectively and have been run on shoestring budgets for decades, with very few staff, so any remaining savings are probably negligible. I sympathise with park managers, park workers, Friends groups and caring councillors in this impossible situation of year-on-year budget cuts.
All I can suggest is that readers of Inside Croydon email their cabinet member for parks, Timothy Godfrey, and ask him not to cut the parks budget. And I would also plead with readers to write to their nearest Conservative MP and make the case for stopping the central government’s cuts on Croydon’s council budget.
The government grant to Croydon has been cut, cut and cut. Parks understandably get less priority than social services and education, but they remain vital to thousands of residents, children included.
And readers should also join Facebook page for the Friends group of their local park, or the one they use the most, to keep up to date with any news about the park, its various activities, and just to show that you care.
- Lewis White is a Coulsdon resident
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