Is parks consultation a prelude to privatisation?

It really is absolutely vital that all of the Borough’s residents make the time to complete the recently launched consultation on the way parks are managed especially to oppose any moves by Greenwich Council to privatise the parks.

Hervey Road Dogs April 2016 groupThis consultation follows recent moves by Greenwich Council to privatise the Hervey Road Sports Ground through transferring the control and lease to Blackheath Rugby Club. Concern over the transfer has been expressed by local groups, including dog walkers, who are worried by the fact that the previously open, green space will be fenced off and they would be expected to keep their dogs on leads when they were allowed access.

I have also noticed that beyond the Borough boundaries, a report by London Councils entitled “The Future of London Parks” suggested that a potential scenario was that health clubs would buy up and limit access to London parks – the model Greenwich seems to have followed with Hervey Road.

Similarly, on a national level a Heritage Lottery Foundation report in 2014 stated that 45% of Local Authorities were considering selling off parks and green spaces or transferring their management to others.

From a personal point of view, I love Eltham’s green spaces and relish the opportunity to walk my dog each day in Castle Woods or Eltham Park, so I am extremely concerned by the possibility that Greenwich Council may privatise its parks. At Hervey Road the Council seems to be planning to limit access for all member of the public and give control to a private organisation. I don’t believe that this is the right way forward for public spaces like parks or woodland and I would urge all residents to respond to the Council consultation so that the Council cannot suggest residents don’t care about our green spaces.

If you are interested, there are a range of websites which are worth looking at:

1. The full details of the Heritage Lottery Foundation Report can be found at https://www.hlf.org.uk/state-uk-public-parks. A press release can be found at https://www.hlf.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/public-parks-under-threat.

2. The London Councils’ report can be found at http://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/our-key-themes/environment/local-environmental-quality/future-london-parks but access is limited and the relevant quote regarding the health club scenario can be found on the BBC website “He speculated that one scenario could see health clubs buy the spaces up as they are considered “fantastic assets”, in which case the public could have no access, as they could be reserved solely for members.” which is at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-33205239.

3. The Consultation on the ‘Future Management of Parks and Open Spaces’ can be found at https://consultations.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/KMS/dmart.aspx?noip=1&strTab=PublicDMart&PageType=item&DMartId=841.