Battle to save uk parks
For many long years now campaigners from all across Liverpool and the Northwest have been fighting to save their parks and green spaces. The campaigners are the communities who live around these places, who love them and cherish them. They have been part of their lives, their families lives yet they are forced to campaign, shocking still is that every week more new campaigns come forward, more loss of our green spaces. All they ask is to have their voices heard by the city council and by the government who can stop the madness of loosing our precious parks and allow them to be enjoyed by them.
They are all, whatever size the lungs of our great city, the health benefits alone out weigh the cost of selling them and building on them. They are home to thousands of species of wildlife and we humans share that space. A place to play, or relax, a place for our future generations to enjoy, a place that has no discrimination, no prejudice. Anyone from all backgrounds and religions to enjoy from the poorest to the city mayors. The biggest thing we all know is our parks matter yet the biggest question is we must ask ourselves is......why no one in power is listening?
Extract from the Guardian article by Rowan Moore published on Sunday 9th July
Councils go to the private sector, both to run parks and exploit the commercial opportunities they offer. But the profit motive does not have the long-term wellbeing of natural assets at heart. Bennellick argues that, as well as creating those shrivelled shrubs, private contractors have no interest in the bigger picture. To maximise their environmental benefits, he says, parks need a strategic approach that considers them not in isolation but in relation to each other. There’s not much chance of this happening in a minimum-cost maintenance contract.
A good, or bad, place to see the future of British parks is Liverpool. This is a city which, under the mayor, Joe Anderson, is in the vanguard of trashing its heritage in the interests of property development. So it may not be surprising that the city should have tried to destroy Walton Hall Park, created as a public asset in 1934, the fourth largest park in Liverpool and an incalculable benefit for the 45,000 residents of adjoining wards, among them some of the poorest in the country.
The plan was to build a new 55,000-seat stadium for Everton FC, along with 30,000 square metres of retail and leisure space, 1,000 homes and a 150-bedroom hotel – not surprising, maybe, but still shocking, an act of thuggery against the values that have been making cities better places to live over the past century and a half. As well as its 130 acres of grass and mature trees, it has had Football Association training pitches for a while that the public can also use, as well as lakes and bowling greens.
It has only been saved by the determined efforts of resident Chrisie Byrne and other campaigners. Its transformation would, says Byrne, have been the largest loss of urban green space in Europe. Even so, it has suffered from cuts: where once it was tended by 15 staff working five days a week, she says, it now has the attentions of three staff, working twice a week. Elsewhere in the city, controversial plans to build on another green space, Sefton Park Meadows, seem to be in abeyance after intense opposition from both locals and the actor Kim Cattrall, who grew up nearby. Another park, Calderstones, has not been so lucky: permission has been granted to nibble at its edges with luxury homes. The council argues that the area under threat is not technically part of the park and therefore can be built on. But it looks like a park and feels like a park and, therefore, you would think it is a park.
Even though the worst destruction in Liverpool has been averted, it is the intent that is frightening. Until now, parks have been pretty much sacrosanct. You just don’t build on them unless to create structures that enhance them, such as cafes and bandstands. Many have covenants that protect them, but others, such as the Liverpool examples, don’t. And even covenants can be undermined by determined lawyers. Once they start being eroded – a bit of Calderstones, some green space in Bexley, some more in Stockport – a principle is breached and there is no guarantee where the destruction will stop.
Apart from commercialisation, outsourcing and selling off, local authorities also respond to cuts by passing responsibility to friends’ groups and community associations. And their motivation can indeed work wonders. After the collapse of the Everton proposal, the Friends of Walton Hall Park, chaired by Byrne, have supplemented the work of the council’s emaciated staff. The Friends have revived and transformed the park, clearing the lakes of algae, managing the new growth of trees, replanting, cleaning up and installing seats and litter bins. Their only assets are voluntary work, the fundraising of small sums – a few thousand here and there – donations of plants and cuttings from private gardens, energy and enthusiasm.