Thursday, 11 February 2016

Greenspace in the London Borough of Barnet under attack

Future funding and governance

Barnet is having to reduce the amount of money that it spends on delivering services and parks will have to make a contribution to this saving.

This is the heading in a document presented to the Barnet Council environment committee in January

These are the options

Future management and funding options
In developing the Open Spaces Strategy, we
have considered a number of options for
new approaches to the funding and future
management of parks in Barnet. We will consult
residents and stakeholders on all of these options
as part of the process of adopting the strategy.
Option 1 – retaining the status quo
Section nine of the strategy suggests ways in which
the current service might be reformed to deliver
to higher standards.
Option 2 – shared public services
This option involves working with other local
authorities to manage parks services (possibly
in combination with other environmental services
such as waste) across a larger part of London.
This can generate savings but can lead to a loss of
local control.
Option 3 - Third part contract management
Some local authorities have entered into long
term contracts with the private sector to deliver
parks services. These arrangements can deliver
considerable efficiencies and a range of community
outcomes but can be undemocratic if not properly
set up.
Option 4 – Social enterprises and partnership
This option would involve creating social
enterprises to manage parks and open spaces. This
option would give local residents a considerable
say in how parks are managed. There is not a well-
developed social enterprise sector in Barnet so this
option would require funding and support for it
to be successful.
Option 5 – trusts and foundations
This option would involve transferring some or all
of the borough’s parks assets into a trust that would
manage these parks in future. The advantage of
this approach would be that a trust would be able
to make long term plans for the borough’s parks.
Start-up and administration costs can be high
and longer-term funding is best achieved through
a large capital endowment.
Option 6 – precepts and levies
This option would involve asking local residents
and businesses to contribute to the cost of
managing parks and open spaces. Many Business
Improvement Districts across London raise similar
levies to pay for better streets and greenspaces.
This would give residents and businesses the
opportunity to directly influence the quality of
services being provided but a clear rationale would
have to be provided to justify a local tax.
Given that Barnet Council has a stated policy of outsourcing and financially exploiting its resources, we can only assume that our greenspaces are under threat and under attack. The whole theme of the paper was the economic viability of greenspace. It is clear that the Council thinks of greenspace only in terms of its econmic value. What this means for residents is that our access to parks are at risk. All sorts of commercial considerations are likely to put the needs of residents second. the Barnet Eye will be making more enquiries as to what all this means, but felt that it was vital to wave a big red flag.

1 comment:

Mrs Angry said...

This is the equivalent to what Barnet Tories are trying to do to our library service: more ideological obsession with destroying local services and local democracy. I used to joke about them charging us to walk on the grass in parks, and breathe the air: a few weeks ago they were considering charging people who take wedding photos in their local park. They are shameless.

Now let's see if any Tory councillors have the guts to oppose this: I suppose it will be the same line as they all took with the libraries, ie saying they don't like the plans to residents, lobbying furiously in secret to protect their own backyards, and then voting all together for proposals that will largely affect Labour wards, again, as in the case of the library cuts.

What a gutless bunch they are.

On the other hand: a grossly misjudged political mistake: and just in the run up to the May elections.