Leicester academic comments on report of Commons select committee inquiry into public parks

A Leicester academic from the Department of History, Politics and International Relations has commented on the House of Commons Public Parks Inquiry which was released this week.

Dr Katy Layton-Jones published her report ‘Uncertain Prospects: Public parks in the age of austerity’, which analysed the effects of austerity cuts on parks, during the inquiry.

Speaking on the inquiry, Dr Layton-Jones said: “The committee conceded wholeheartedly that our parks are in crisis. It's a fair assessment and they're right, and they don't pull any punches.”

The ‘Uncertain Prospects’ report for the Gardens Trust found that, since 2010, austerity cuts have marked the beginning of the end of a parks renaissance which was started by the launch of the Heritage Lottery Fund's urban parks programme in 1996.

The report recommended park maintenance should be made a statutory duty for local authorities, identifying baseline funding requirements for all parks, that local authorities should be enabled to introduce local taxation to fund parks and a recognition that for the vast majority of public parks there is no alternative to local authority ownership and management.

Dr Layton-Jones said: “The general trend is clear. As a result of austerity cuts we will have more parks in declining condition in 2020 than we did in 1998.

“That is a terrible indictment of what Government policy is doing to parks.”