Knowsley’s independent parks review board has recommended the creation of a charitable trust to be responsible for the future running of parks and green spaces in the borough.
During August and September, the Knowsley Parks and Green Spaces Review Board – the independent group charged with finding a solution for protecting the future of the borough’s parks – asked residents to give their views on recommendations for the future funding and management of the borough’s green spaces.
The majority (60%) of those who responded to the face to face questionnaire, online survey and focus groups – involving around 2,500 residents – voted in favour of the creation of a charitable trust to run parks from April 2019.
This would be funded through the investment of a £40 million endowment, created through the phased sale of up to 10% of parks and green spaces in Knowsley over the next 15 years.
The review board agreed these recommendations at its final meeting and will now ask Knowsley Council to consider the proposals at its Cabinet meeting on 28 November.
Knowsley Council has lost £86m in budget cuts since 2010 and, facing a further £14.8m of cuts up to 2020, can no longer afford the £1.3m per year it costs to maintain parks from 2019.
This led to the creation of the independent Parks and Green Spaces Review Board – made up of representatives from Knowsley Council, Town and Parish Councils, local businesses, friends of parks groups and academics – who have undertaken an in-depth review of potential new funding and governance models, as well as the recent consultation.
Chair of the Knowsley Parks and Green Spaces Review Board, Gideon Ben Tovim said:
“Firstly we would like to thank everyone who got involved with the consultation and for sharing their views.
“We needed to find a new way of sustaining Knowsley’s public parks and green spaces and protecting them for future generations. The only really sustainable model that we could find was a trust funded by an endowment created by the sale of up to 10% of parks and green spaces. This endowment would be invested for the long-term, bringing a return used to fund parks forever.”
While the board will not be identifying which sites could be sold in the future, it will share its findings from the consultation about what matters most to people about green spaces, how they use them and the types of open spaces they value the most.
“If the council agrees with our findings, we have recommended that it uses our criteria to come up with a list which they should share and discuss with Knowsley’s parish and town councils, friends groups and volunteers and the public at the appropriate time.”