I found myself feeling a little sorry for Southwark. Probably cos I am a Lambeth resident and therefore jealous! There is a huge problem nationally with urban parks. They are not a statutory responsibility and so when Council budgets get squeezed - mainly by the ever expanding deemands of social services and education - parks budgets often go first. Also procurement requirements over the past 30 years has led Councils often having to take the lowest priced contractor, not necessarily the best. There is now a bit more flexibility, and an increasing recognition that like 'bobbies on the beat' people want to see park keepers in park, but by and large there has been a massive lost of experience and expertise in parks management.
The Government have also woken up to the fact that good quality urban parks are important, accessible and low-cost facilities, which t help improve areas more generally. Isolated mums can meet others in the playground. Pensioners, unemployed and more have somewhere to go, plus they are good places for informal and recreational sports. And so finally Governmewnt is taking an interest and money is being put in.
The big question is how much of this money will reach Council Parks Departments to enable them to actually maintain parks. To date nmuch of the SRB, S106 and Lottery monies have been capital. Which means happy residents see wonderful improvements get vandalised and neglected, as there is no money there for on-going running costs. The current movement seems to be towards 'community trusts'. I am not sure. My instinct is that volunteer groups can get worn out, or dominated by small groups or paid workers and because of the economies of scale, insurance and other issues, often have higher administration costs than Councils. And that at the end of the day we are better off seeking good on-going delivery from Councils - which are after all the democratic unit and should belong to us.
Don't know if you wanted all of this. Three years of sitting on Lambeth's Parks Forum.....
Does anybody know when the park will open? I hardly ever see anyone working on it and on sunny days its incredibly frustrating not being able to use it as its such an essential space in a community of gardenless residents! I'm sure I'm not the only one who's impatient as its already being used as a football pitch most days!
Sarah's comments about capital versus running costs are spot on. In defence of the lottery monies issued to capital projects, it really is the job of councils to cough up on running costs, and not bodies like the HLF to provide replacement income streams. Incidentally, if anyone in the local community is interested in applying for a grant (which can be worth many thousands of pounds) for doing up a bit of abandoned or run-down ground on your doorstep, you could do a lot worse than visit
This is a Government body which is currently handing out grants to local communities who are interested in reclaiming small pieces of waste ground which the council (and others) have neglected. The emphasis is on the local community to do up their own neighbourhood, and the funds are specifically targeted at areas of multiple deprivation (eg: that piece of waste ground where the Old Kent Road meets the Bricklayers' Arms roundabout). So if you know of a piece of waste ground near you that needs sprucing up (even if it is owned by the council), give the site a visit. They will even help pay for local communities to buy the land off the owner!
I've probably come into this a bit late. The Tabard park is due to be open this week but is running a little behind schedule.
There has been a group of residents involved in the plans for the re-development which is why it is looking nice and green still! There are wild flower seeds on the mounds and lots of native planting gone back in to help the birds.
We are 'hoping' that the people who use the green area for football and break the trees and trample the plants will not be able to do so once it is open because there will be a lot of people sitting on the grass.
We will be setting up a friends of tabard park group very soon to try and get some ongoing control of the management and further development of it. I'll post on here when we have set a date for a meeting.