Funding needed to maintain parks and green spaces

Keep Britain Tidy is calling on parents across the UK to make time to visit their local green space with their child, as research shows that 75 per cent of children would like to spend more time outdoors.

Launched to mark the start of #LoveParks Week, the research reveals that children in Britain visit outdoor spaces an average of three times a week, with 80 per cent of parents admitting they would like their child to spend more time outside. The top reason given by parents for not spending more time outdoors was that they don’t have time to take their children to the park.

As a result, classic outdoor skills children often learn in the park could be on the decline, with the research indicating that 34 per cent of children have never learnt to ride a bike, and 49 per cent have never climbed a tree.

Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: “Parks and green spaces are an essential part of childhood. It’s great to see that, despite recent concerns about digital distractions, only 19 per cent of children prefer playing on devices to exploring the great outdoors. I’m delighted that three quarters of our children actually want to spend more time outside, so I urge parents to help make that happen by frequenting their local green space. Love Parks Week is the perfect time to make a date with nature, take part in a host of activities, and explore your green space.”

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, chair of the Local Government Association’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: “Access to natural spaces has a range of benefits to the community and councils are using parks to promote health and fitness, local heritage, public art, festivals and wildlife walks. Councils are doing everything they can to keep their parks and green spaces open and available to their communities.

“But with councils in England facing an £8 billion funding gap by 2025, the money local government has to provide vital services, such as parks and open spaces, is running out fast. It is vital the government uses the forthcoming Spending Review to provide councils with funding to maintain their parks.”

Additionally, a record 1,970 parks and green spaces across the UK have been honoured by Keep Britain Tidy this year, a record total and an increase of four per cent on last year's totals.

The awards are given to green spaces which are well-managed, clean and safe, and ares seen as the main international mark of quality. The Green Flag award considers a variety of criteria, including whether a greenspace or park is: a welcoming place; healthy, safe and secure; well maintained and clean; as well as: environmental management; biodiversity, landscape and heritage; community involvement; and marketing and communication.

Ogden-Newton said: “We have awarded more Green Flags to parks and green spaces this year than ever before, which means beautiful, well-managed and peaceful spaces are accessible to more people than ever. But our message is use it or lose it. Not only does visiting your local park boost your mental health but your visit supports the Herculean effort made by local authorities to provide world-class parks and that has never been harder to do.

"With around 27,000 parks and greenspaces across England alone Green Flag standard parks are still the exception but the number of awards given out this year is a testament to the hard work and innovation displayed by many local authorities."