The approval consultation report on the future of parks by the Council on Monday 21 March allows for the generation of a large-scale public debate.
The document is full of a lot of good intensions but there is concern that it is very much based on the plans that Lambeth have been laying out.
- The documents talks a lot about consultation but there is a feeling that what has taken place to date is not REAL community engagement or empowerment. There needs to be honest & full disclosure before decisions are taken by the administration, not ticking boxes after the decisions have been made by the council cabinet members.
- The aim in the document is to get more people using Croydon’s parks more often, for longer, for more activities. If the council wants this then the very basic of all amenities needs to be offered i.e. clean, working & safe public toilets. This is especially true if they want to increase the use of parks for sports & exercise by local schools & children.
- The document talks a lot about community asset transfer to volunteers (as recently done with Crystal Palace Park). Before this is even talked about the council needs to inform groups what the current budgets & ongoing costs are of running each of the Croydon parks and the income they currently generate individually; this is the only way you’d buy a business so an asset transfer should be the same (you wouldn’t buy a house without knowing how much your monthly mortgage would be).
- Plans need to be in place if the volunteers pull out; as is their right. How does the council take back the full running of a park or failed community asset transfer?
What We Need For Informed Debate
Given the length of the consultation there is time to:
(1) prepare a detailed critique
(2) draw up a list of those open spaces and parks that either have a Friends group or a Residents Association that keeps an eye on their local ones – not all may be involved in the existing parks and open spaces forum
(3) draw up a list of those open spaces and parks which do not appear to have any organisation which keeps an eye on them in order to see how nearby residents can be encouraged to organise
(4) publish a critique in Croydon Citizen
(5) seek a critique of the Lambeth approach and how Croydon’s may be apeing it
(6) launch the critiques at a Borough wide public meeting
(7) encourage Friends Groups and Residents Associations where there are Friends Groups to run public meetings for their local park/open space
(8) bring all the view points together at another Borough wide event.
(9) use the Heritage and other Festivals to put on some talks and walks about various parks and open spaces
(10) encourage schools to work with pupils to submit their perspective on parks
See the Council’s press statement at http://news.croydon.gov.uk/better-parks-plan-launched The details are not yet posted on https://getinvolved.croydon.gov.uk/KMS/DMart.aspx (as at today).
The Croydon Assembly Environment Forum will discuss the parks consultation at its meeting on Monday 4 April at 7.30pm at Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Rd.