Parks and Green Spaces

Page 1 of 7

Closes 29 Jan 2018

Introduction

  1. Introduction / key communication messages

Overall, the cost of the council providing essential services and changes in our income will leave us with a gap in our finances of £108m over the next five years. This is because prices keep going up, as does the demand for services such as social care and education, because we have a growing population. The council is having to make savings across many of its services.

We believe Bristol’s parks and green spaces are a vital part of the city’s facilities.  Parks are good for the physical and emotional wellbeing of citizens, as well as helping to make Bristol an attractive tourist destination.

Providing and maintaining parks and green spaces is not a statutory function of the council (i.e. the council  does not have to do it).  Most councils choose to spend money on public open green space because of its importance to citizens.  Maintaining and investing in parks and green spaces is getting more and more difficult as council budgets become smaller.  However, there is a real opportunity for a thriving city such as Bristol to come up with innovative approaches to sustain city green space for the future.

By April 2019 the council has a target to reduce what it spends each year on parks by at least £2.868 million.  This means services will need to be run in a very different way; we will need to work more with communities, make more money, create more partnerships, make services as efficient as possible and reduce some of the things we do now.  As we move forward we want to be positive and ambitious for our parks whilst being clear that we have to work differently to maintain a much valued level of service citywide.

In order to make the savings, we have taken the approach of trying to earn as much money as possible so we can keep service reductions to a minimum.  The alternative would be to make the savings by reducing the service and removing facilities which cost the council a considerable amount of money to keep and maintain. 

Our vision is:

Working together for a Bristol with good quality, attractive and enjoyable parks and green spaces in every part of the city / neighbourhood.

We will do this by:

  • Keeping free access for all to the city’s parks.
  • Making money from our parks that we will use directly to support their maintenance and improvement [and seeking to make them more financially secure for future generations].
  • Welcoming community management of local spaces, supporting volunteering and neighbourhood decision-making.
  • Recognising that our parks are vital for our health and wellbeing and ensuring they are attractive and accessible for all our citizens.
  • Being clear about our strategy for parks, our minimum standards, our investment plans and how we intend to deliver them.
  • Being clear that having good, safe, clean and well-maintained parks is a collective responsibility.
  • Ensuring that the planning process protects green space from development where green space is needed and where it helps protect the city from high temperatures and local flooding during heavy rainfall.
  1. What are we consulting and engaging on?

We have already started to deliver some of the £2.868m savings we need to make.  £963k agreed in the 2017-18 Corporate Strategy consultation is being saved through improving services and increasing charges in cemeteries and crematoriums, increasing income from cafes and other businesses in parks, reducing money we give to other organisations, and closing the business operating in Ashton Court which does not cover the costs of keeping Ashton Court open.

Now a further £632k of savings is needed in 2018-19 and £1.272m is needed in 2019-20 (i.e. £1.904m in total across these two years). We propose that the £1.904m of savings would be:

  • £839.5k achieved by generating income, including from the proposals we set out below;
  • £490k saved by making efficiencies and reducing parks services, including from the proposals we set out below;
  • £375k generated by increasing income from established businesses – e.g. cemeteries and crematoriums;
  • The proposed parking charges have not been introduced and set with the aim of raising revenue, they are set at a level to support traffic management.  BCC surplus parking revenue is used to cover the cost of the council's Parking Services account with all surpluses used to support the council's transport operational costs such as Highways Maintenance and Park and Ride, with any subsequent surplus being used for transport related initiatives. We estimate that the money that can be invested is likely to be in the region of £200k.

If we are able to raise more income than we currently predict then this can be used to prevent service reductions.

Because of the Council’s overall requirement to make savings, we have ruled out keeping the parks service as it is and not making changes.  Therefore, we are consulting now on a number of proposals for 2018-19 and 2019-20 that would help move us closer to our savings target.

We are also engaging with you to identify what concerns you have with changes we propose, what preferences you have when considering change and what ideas you have for helping the Council make the savings it needs to. Further consultation on specific proposals may follow once we have ascertained your views on the approaches we propose.