Britain’s public parks are threatened with widespread privatisation as dramatic budget cuts stretch council resources to breaking point, it has been warned.
There are an estimated 27,000 public parks in Britain, but local authorities have no statutory requirement to fund and maintain them.
Many councils have already outsourced the maintenance of parks to local volunteers – but now senior councillors are warning that this may no longer be viable and that the land could have to be handed over to be run by profit-making companies.
“By harnessing the time and expertise community groups offer, boroughs have been able to continue caring for these precious areas of green space,” said Councillor Julian Bell, the chairman of the London Council’s Transport and Environment committee.
“But there is doubt about whether or not councils will be able to continue to support these groups as boroughs divert what money they have to meet statutory responsibilities such as adult social care and elderly care,” he added.
London’s budget cuts have reduced the city’s spending on open spaces by 18 per cent in the past four years. But Mr Bell warned that the outlook was even worse outside the capital. “This is absolutely a countrywide problem, which is likely to be even worse across the country than it is in London,” he told The Independent.