Brighton and Hove parks budget cuts are “a false economy”, according to expert group

Posted On 28 Oct 2016 at 2:08 pm

Proposed budget cuts affecting parks and open spaces would be “a false economy”, according to Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth.

The campaign group criticised the proposals in its response to a consultation by Brighton and Hove City Council as it looks for ways to balance its books.

The group said: “Cutting green spaces a false economy.

“Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth is responding today to Brighton and Hove City Council’s so-called ‘Big Conversation’, a consultation on the ‘future of our parks’.

“It is highly critical of the consultation which tightly constrains how people can respond. It believes the results could be very divisive pitting one type of user against another.

“The consultation failed to give the public a chance to comment on some very important issues such as ring-fencing income from events that take place on the city’s green spaces and from the rental of the downland estate.

“The Cityparks budget was £4 million a year in 2015-16 and the Council says it needs to cut at least £600,000 from the budget by 2020.

“Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth believes that the Parks Department has already had a 25 per cent cut in funding since 2009 and that more is unsustainable.

“Given the relatively small amounts of money involved and the widespread benefits to public health, funding for green spaces should be increased not cut.

“Last year local volunteers fought and won a strong battle to stop the council axing many of the rangers.”

Chris Todd, from the group, said: “The whole premise of this so-called consultation is that there have to be cuts to parks and open spaces.

“But that is wrong. The budget is one of the lowest in the council and the amount of money involved is relatively small. Yet, people are given no opportunity to question this.

Chris Todd

Chris Todd

“The council gets income from renting out our green spaces to events and from the downland estate.

“We want to see that money ring-fenced for our parks and open spaces, not disappearing into the council’s coffers.

“Given the huge public health benefits that green spaces provide, making cuts in this area is a false economy.

“It will increase NHS costs as well as potentially undermining the city’s economy.

“Rather than just dump the problem on the public, we want to see the council use its influence to secure funding for our green spaces from the health sector.”

BHFOE said: “The city council’s health budget is £22.4 million in 2016-17, an increase of £1.8 million since 2015-16.

“BHFOE believes that some of this increase should have been used to support parks and open spaces, particularly as the council is now responsible for health promotion, supporting preventative measures, to stop people getting ill to start with – just what green spaces help to do!”

  1. Cllr Warren Morgan Reply

    All budgets are “small” in comparison to our social care budget. That is growing fast, whilst our funding from central government – about a third of what we spend – is being cut entirely. There are good arguments against pretty much anything we do being cut – councils are not in the business of running services that don’t provide any benefit – but the harsh reality is that by 2019 we will only be able to afford to run social care for older people, people with disabilities, children in care and so on, and a small amount of legally-required environmental services. We are doing what we can to save money, invest in cheaper ways of working and ways to bring in more revenue to support services, and ensure others continue under the control of voluntary, community and not-for-profit groups where possible.

    • Rostrum Reply

      You really need to find a way to make the ‘student and uni’ contingent pay their way. It’s not acceptable for the regular council tax payers to subsidies them. The universities are now money making machines that should be taxed as such. Students often have more income than the low paid citizens but are not contributing in the way we need.

    • Rolivan Reply

      Yet you were not prepared to joint develop Kings House which would bring in much needed income because “We are not Developers”.Then lo and behold you decide to do exactly that with Hyde elsewhere yo the tune of £52m.

    • Everybody else Reply

      And the income of MPs and many other council illiterati is relatively high, their mandate relatively low and their ability to do anything they say when on a ‘sales push’, increasingly incongruous.
      We afforded to find the millions of pounds needed to redevelop and build the i360 site while the pier continued to fossilise and tree roots and weeds ripped apart our residential pavements, so if I’m not mistaken, telling us that this cannot be afforded is far from true.
      The answer to out of control spending by those doing it, is not to ask them what they think they need to do but to ask every single person for their valued opinions in order to reverse the trend.

  2. Hjarrs Reply

    A divided Labour council out of their depth and Conservative budget cuts make a toxic mix.

    All over the country parks are returning to the shoddy state of the 1980s. It is a national disgrace that will only become worse as tax revenues reduces as we Brexit.

    Sadly, locally the Labour Party is engaged in civil war and too busy navel gazing o fight cuts.

  3. Fiona Davis Reply

    So sad seeing the St Anne’s Wells Bowling Pavillion for sale, home to several clubs apparently. Think of the ill health and loneliness that’ll result, costing much more than the funding withdrawn!

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