Knowsley’s new leader says parks won’t be sold

The new leader of Knowsley Council has confirmed that he intends to drop the proposals to sell 10 per cent of the borough’s parks and set up a charitable trust to manage them in the future.

Following a £1.3 million funding shortfall in the parks budget, the council had previously agreed to work on proposals to sell 17 parkland sites for development in order to raise enough money to create a £40 million endowment and protect the remaining 90 per cent of the borough’s parkland ‘forever’.

Graham Morgan has however stated that the area’s parks were ‘one of Knowsley's greatest assets’ and that £1.3 million of cuts would be found elsewhere.

Morgan said: “Upon taking over as Leader of this council a couple of weeks ago, I made it clear that one of my first priorities would be to look at the future of our parks – which are undoubtedly one of Knowsley’s greatest assets. Alongside my Labour Group colleagues, I have since looked in detail at all of the background documentation behind the independent review and taken note of the feedback and views of the local community.

“There is no doubt that we still face an unprecedented financial challenge. But, for Knowsley to thrive in the future, I strongly believe that we have to work together with our local communities, listen to their views, and then shape our decisions on the basis of that complete and full picture.

“The message from local communities has been loud and clear on this issue – they value our parks too much to lose them. With this in mind, I am going to take forward a proposal to reinstate the £1.3 million of council funding for the parks and open spaces budget from April 2019. We will still have to make savings to balance our budget, and that is not going to be easy, but we know that our residents want us to look elsewhere.”

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