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Mike Gapes MP calls for action to support local parks

New report from the Heritage Lottery Fund calls for collaborative national and local action to deliver new ways of funding and managing parks to avert a crisis

On Wednesday 7th September, Mike Gapes, MP for Ilford South attended an event in Parliament hosted by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to galvanise support for the UK’s public parks.

Thanks to an investment of over £850m of National Lottery money, more than 800 of the UK’s public parks are in better condition, with improved facilities and renovated historic features. However, with park managers reporting an expectation of further budget cuts, the benefits of this investment could be lost as the risk of decline and potential facility closures continues to grow.  

Mike Gapes said: “Our local parks including South Park and Valentines Park which both have received lottery funding are incredibly important to the people of Ilford, helping us relax, get fit, play and spend time with each other. The Heritage Lottery Fund is right to highlight the challenges currently facing these treasured open spaces and I am pleased to support their call for concerted action to protect their future.”

The Heritage Lottery Fund’s new report, State of UK Public Parks 2016, finds that:

  • parks are more popular than ever after £850m of National Lottery investment
  • park use is rising whilst resources and skills available to manage them are declining
  • a downward trend in the condition of parks - predicted in HLF’s 2014 report – is set to continue
  • commercially driven approaches to income generation are increasing and new management models are showing encouraging results; and
  • careful management, better national and local partnership working and investment in new skills are needed to build expertise at a time when resources are limited.

HLF and Big Lottery Fund are committed to funding capital improvements to historic parks and supporting innovation, particularly around new models of finance and management. The two funding bodies are now calling for continued commitment from local authorities and collaboration across the parks sector, business, park users and local and central Government to develop new ways to fund and manage parks. 

More information is available at www.hlf.org.uk

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