As a Council we face huge financial challenges. The Government has cut our funding by over 56% since 2010 and this has meant that the parks budget has reduced.
However, our priority has been to manage this challenge in a way that minimises the impact on parks users. We have cut back office costs, brought the maintenance service in-house and introduced a ‘Parks Investment Levy’ so that the proceeds from major events can be reinvested in our parks.
All this while we receive Green Flag park status across twelve of our parks in Lambeth – including Brockwell Park – meaning that they are officially ranked amongst the very best in the country.
We have also looked at opportunities for augmenting the reduced budget by earning more from the parks’ assets, such as introducing licensing for fitness trainers or professional dog walkers.
We are confident that the vast majority of residents won’t have noticed any difference in their local park – and we want to keep it that way. The council works very closely with Friends of Parks groups and together a new Parks Charter is being drawn up. This will set out and define the partnership between Lambeth and the Lambeth Parks Forum (the representative body of park users) and will cover things like oversight of the budget, maintenance, consultation on nearby planning applications and how any available money (Section 106 or CIL) will be spent. It will also create a forum where users can propose initiatives, express concerns and receive regular feedback on the management of parks.
Finally, on a very positive note, in January 2015 Lambeth’s Cabinet approved a “Parks Capital Investment Programme”, paving the way for over £20m of investment up to 2019. Around £11m of this will come from Lambeth and the remainder from external sources such as the Heritage Lottery. We are determined to see our parks protected so future generations can continue to enjoy them.
Thurlow Park Councillors have been working with the Cabinet leadership and the Brockwell Park Community Partners to develop a new events strategy to help manage events in the park for the benefit of the community. Brockwell Park is at the heart of the local community and needs to be well cared for so Everyone can enjoy the space for many years to come.
Events, of all sorts, are part of park life and many people in the local community and from afar have enjoyed everything from open-air theatre to house music at Brockwell Park. There has been some considerable concern with the way events have been conducted and managed in Brockwell Park over July, especially over the level of noise and the problems associated with clearing up after the events.
To help manage events better for the community a new strategy is coming into place from the Autumn onwards. This will allow greater scrutiny and control over events, which will be devolved from the town hall to the community. The outline of the new events framework is as follows;
• The Brockwell Park Community Partners in conjunction with us will lead in defining the conditions for new events • The decision to veto events taking place will rest with the community groups and the local Cllrs. Previously the decision was taken centrally by events team staff. • When the council reviews the event plans to see if it complies with health and safety standards, they will also be reviewed for their impact on the community. This will assess whether the clean up plans are adequate and they have given due care and attention to the impact event will have on the wider neighbourhood. • There will be an increase in revenue from each event going directly back into Brockwell Park that the Brockwell Community Park Community Partners will allocate. • There will be community feedback sought after each event to gather views about how run the event more effectively in the future.
We are committed to minimising the negative impact that events can have on the park by not permitting events to be run on consecutive weekends and by imposing tight conditions on the duration of sound levels. Please do write to us further about any issues you have with the park in the future.
As you maybe aware the Veolia Grounds Maintenance contract in Parks will be coming to an end on Thursday 31st March and staff will be transferring over to Lambeth on Friday 1st April.
All staff will be issued with new uniform that will not be dissimilar to the existing one worn, with the only changes being to the colour of the trousers – which will be black, and the hi-vis jackets and vests – which will now be orange.
Staff will continue to operate from the existing depots, and for now the operational structure will remain the same. The existing Park Managers will also continue to be your first port of call for any matters.
Lambeth are working very hard to ensure that there is continuity of service, but hope that residents understand that things need to settle into place and this may take a little time.
Should there be any questions regarding the new staffing arrangements, please contact Lara Mifsud-Bonici, Interim Parks & Open Spaces Operations Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org
The parks maintenance contract is coming to an end in April 2016 and Cllr Jane Edbrooke, cabinet member for culture, has led on reviewing how we take the service forward – especially in light of the parks maintenance specification as set out in Culture 2020.
There is a significant reduction to the parks budget from next year thanks to severe central Government cuts to our funding, and we’ve been determined to find a way forward which safeguards our parks and provides value for money.
We had a really clear steer from residents involved with Brockwell Park and from local Labour Party members that the possibility of taking the grounds maintenance contract in house should be explored as a means to get better value for money from available funds. We raised this aspiration with the cabinet members.
We are therefore really pleased that it has been recommended to cabinet that the parks service be brought back in-house.We believe this is great news – not only will the grounds staff have better terms and conditions than they currently have, we will be able to look towards integration with other services like our grounds maintenance on housing estates.
More information can be found here and we are happy to answer any questions. We expect the decision on this recommendation to take place on 14th December, and anticipate that should we go ahead we will establish a direct labour force from April 2016.
Since December 2011 the Edible Bus Stop – http://theediblebusstop.org/staging/gardens/west-norwood/ – has been working with West Norwood residents and the West Norwood Feast on a suitability site for one of their fantastic street gardens.The ‘Bollards’ site by the Fire Station on Norwood Road was selected by the community as the area they would most like to see animated.
Work began on the existing neglected flowerbeds by the 322 bus stop ‘H’ by William Brown Court in April 2012. The new design and garden space will hopefully open in June 2014. The garden will be planted with native and wild edible and non edible plants to create a Great British bio-diverse garden to inspire and improve the feel of the surrounding community.