From The Argus –
Residents are being warned that city playgrounds cannot all be maintained to the same current standards under council cuts.
Brighton and Hove City Council has launched a consultation into the future of its 147 parks and green spaces and have told those taking part that the city’s 53 playgrounds cannot continue as they are because of budget savings.
Part of the “Big Conversation” consultation will test the water for support of community groups to take over responsibility for parks, allotments and public spaces.
Residents are also being asked for their support of proposals to replace play equipment with natural play features carved from trees which require less maintenance or not to replace some play equipment at all when they reach the end of their usable life.
The authority has warned this could create a two-tier level of quality of playgrounds with some in the city offering much more for children than others.
Residents are also being asked whether they would support more corporate sponsorship in parks to increase revenues and whether residents should be allowed to cut grass verges near their homes to save money.
The council could also prioritise spending on parks and playgrounds ahead of verges, cemeteries and allotments depending on consultation support.
The changes are needed because of proposed cuts in the budget of the city parks department which will have reduced by almost 30 per cent between 2008 and 2020.
By 2020 the council department will have less than £3.5 million a year which is not enough to retain all parks and green spaces to their current standard.
The department’s annual budget is among the smallest within the council at the equivalent of £14 for every resident.
Councillor Gill Mitchell, chairwoman of the environment, transport and sustainability committee said: “We know that people really value their neighbourhood parks and recreation areas, and want to see them protected and preserved into the future.
“That’s why we are encouraging everyone to get involved in the Big Conversation, share their priorities, opinions and ideas and make sure their voice is heard,
“This consultation is a way of involving everyone from the start in a really important discussion on how we create new models for the future management of our precious parks and open spaces.”
To take part in the consultation visit brighton-hove.gov.uk/parks-consultation before October 28.
Paper copies of the consultation are also available.