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I am really pleased to be able to bring you news of another successful bid for funding that will benefit Bristol's Parks.

Bristol has secured almost £1 million to help secure the future of the city’s parks and green spaces.

Bristol City Council fought off tough competition to be one of only eight places across the UK selected by the National Trust and The National Lottery Heritage Fund to take part in its ground-breaking Future Parks programme.

The eight were chosen from 81 projects submitted by councils and communities across the UK to receive a share of more than £6m of funding and £5m worth of advice and support from some of the country’s leading experts in conservation, fundraising, volunteering and green space management.

In the first project of its kind in the UK, Future Parks is designed to help councils find sustainable ways to manage and fund parks and open spaces across entire towns and cities.
As mentioned at our meeting in February, Bristol City Council submitted a plan to the The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Trust, to put together a ‘Bristol Parks Prospectus.’
The prospectus will outline Bristol’s green spaces, setting out areas of opportunity to enhance health and wellbeing and sustainability. It will explore the potential of parks and green space to accommodate business activity, including pay-to-use services considered to be compatible with the character, role and use of a particular site.

Over the next two years Bristol will work together with the other cities to develop tools, approaches, skills and finance to create their new way of managing green space as well as sharing their experience with other councils.

There is no intention to use this process to ‘sell off parks’. Indeed the whole aim of the initiative nationally is to save green spaces. The project in Bristol will be run by a steering group on which I will represent both the Parks Forum and the Bristol & Bath Parks Foundation. A representative from the National Trust is also on the steeering group and there will be regular meetings with the National Lottery Hertiage Fund and people working on the other projects.

Ros Kerslake, The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s CEO, said: “Our urban parks and green spaces are essential to the health and well-being of the nation and yet in some areas they are facing a very insecure future. Future Parks isn’t simply patching-up a few problem parks. It is enabling local authorities and communities to take a longer-term, strategic approach to managing, funding and maintaining them, so future generations will be able to enjoy their many benefits in hundreds of years from now."

Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor with responsibility for parks and green spaces, said: “Bristol has great ambitions for our parks and green spaces, but as a council we recognise that we cannot realise these without working closely with our partners.
“In facing the challenge presented by budget cuts, we need to explore new ways to generate income to support parks. 

“The opportunity is to find partners who can add value to the parks experience within a service which is free to use and of benefit to all.
“Visiting a park, whether to exercise, meet friends, or simply relax, is good for our health and wellbeing.  But not everyone can access a park easily, and consequently too many people are missing out.  The Parks Prospectus will identify the potential of parks to deliver health benefits matched to areas of greatest need and invite partners to provide health-based programmes from parks including mental health and physical exercise programmes.”

An overview of the other chosen projects:
  • Birmingham –  A city-wide project designed to put green space at the heart of decision-making with specific focus on jobs and skills, housing, children and young people, and health and wellbeing
  • Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole – Putting green spaces at the heart of the new council with greater emphasis on using parks to improve health, connecting up the landscape and enhancing nature, as well as developing enterprise in order to invest in parks and greenspaces across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
  • Cambridgeshire – Partnership work across seven councils to develop a county-wide green space network that is connected, accessible, welcoming and sustainable.
  • Edinburgh ­– Creating a 30-year strategy aligned to its 2050 city vision, focused on several key areas: community engagement and participation, nature, enterprise, technology, and sharing learning.
  • Islington and Camden – Focused on using parks and greenspaces to improve health and wellbeing by developing closer links to the NHS, health providers, doctors and health charities.
  • Nottingham – Creation of a 25-year plan to redesign its parks service with a focus on volunteering, community participation, fundraising and enterprise development.
  • Plymouth – Focused on greater engagement with local communities; making parks and greenspaces more welcoming and accessible; bringing buildings and spaces back into use and designing a new management system to create the city’s green spaces.
This is the second big win for Bristol's parks following the successful 'Rethinking Parks' bid last year that led to the setting up of the Bristol & Bath Parks Foundation. Both have funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and being part of both projects puts Bristol firmly in the national spotlight.

Look out for coverage of this award in the national and local media today and on social media under the hashtag #FutureParks

Rob Acton-Campbell
Bristol Parks Forum
Next Parks Forum meeting Sat 19th October - venue tbc

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