Council continues consultation on future of parks

Newcastle City Council has launched an online consultation campaign to get public views on the ongoing operation and maintenance of parks across the city.

Following the recent Newcastle city budget, which cut 91% from park funding, it has become essential for the council to find new ways of financing the city’s green spaces, as parks don’t make enough money to cover costs alone.

It is now being proposed that a large proportion of the city’s parks and allotments are handed over to a charitable trust to reduce costs and find new income sources. Jesmond Dene is included in this proposal.

Newcastle City Council said: “Parks are so much more than just a place to feed the ducks and have a kick-about. They play a vital role, for young and old, in the leisure, recreational, health, wellbeing, heritage, environment, social and economic status of the local community.”

In light of this, the council is committed to working alongside the National Trust and the public of Newcastle to assure a positive future for Newcastle’s parks.

Members of the public have been asked to attend workshops and drop-in events held across the city and also to fill out consultation survey’s online. This programme aims to attract responses from residents, volunteer groups, businesses, stakeholders, schools, universities and other key regional partners.

Workshops are regularly ran by Open Lab, a cross-disciplinary research centre at Newcastle University, but these are for groups of no more than 25 people on a first come, first served basis.

So far, issues on the agenda have included raising money, which may be done through leasing or charged car parks, volunteer positions, activities and how decisions should be made.

It is largely agreed by many that allotments, health hubs, such as park yoga, education opportunities and community events may be the best way to raise money for the parks.

Fiona Clarke, the chair of Jesmond Community Orchard, recently commented on Let’s Talk Newcastle’s forum, saying “I would love us to be involved in planting more fruit trees in selected park locations, and in holding events there such as Apple Days, pruning days or grafting courses. There may be particular locations that would be ideal for creating new small orchards with the involvement of local people.”

The next main event for The Future of Newcastle’s Parks is an online Twitter Chat which will be held on 5th April at 7pm where they will discuss the question, “How should decisions be made?”

Councillor Kim McGuinness said: “This is a positive and exciting new journey for Newcastle’s Parks and sees us lead the way nationally in trying to find a solution and develop the best possible response to the enforced government budget cuts”.

The Future of Newcastle’s Parks consultation will run until 21st April 2017.