We all need to act to help to save our under-funded parks

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

Duppas Hill Park, Croydon's oldest public space, has been under threat from road schemes and lack of maintenance in recent years

Duppas Hill Park, Croydon’s oldest public space, has been under threat from road schemes and lack of maintenance in recent years

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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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Croydon Council, Croydon parks, Duppas Hill Park, Environment, Timothy Godfrey and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to We all need to act to help to save our under-funded parks

  1. The planning application for the former Taberner House site reduces the size of Queens Gardens and also increases the percentage of hard surfacing. I suppose that will save on the “parks” budget. Perhaps some of the proceeds from the sale should go to the Parks Dept budget but that is probably against the Council rules.

  2. Andrew Kennedy says:

    The plan is for the public space to go right up to the footprint of the tower blocks.

    Do you think the residents are going to pay for the upkeep or part of the upkeep of the Queen’s Gardens where their children are going to play? I don’t think so.

    Do you think it will be safe or even desirable for their children to ride round on bikes and skateboards and play football in the Queen’s Gardens? I don’t think so.

    Will the new Queen’s Gardens be policed and the no alcohol policy be enforced any better than it is now? I want the children of the tower blocks to have their own space and not on a roof-top, where they can be safe and can kick around a football in their own space, and the public enjoy some peace and quiet, take wedding photos and perhaps enjoy a concert or two in the open air.

    Should be at least as much a cultural space as a play space in this location, central to the town and in the so-called Cultural Quarter.

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