Meeting held with new lead member for Parks Salman Shaheen
A new play area in Dukes Meadows
A consortium of five voluntary groups working to protect and improve local parks in the boroughs has said it is encouraged by the new council administration’s commitment to the sector.
Representatives from groups caring for Boston Manor Park, Dukes Meadows, Northcote Nature Reserve, Silverhall Gardens and St John’s Gardens sought a meeting with the new Cabinet Member for Parking, Parks and Leisure, Councillor Salman Shaheen.
Encouraged by the new leadership’s commitment to engage and listen, the groups were keen to find out how this could improve the way the council works with park friends and community groups.
Vanessa Smith, of Northcote Nature Reserve said, “Although the relationship with Friends groups in some parks is good, in others it has broken down to the extent that groups are considering quitting. This would be tragic, for people walking away from parks they have spent years working on, but also for the loss of knowledge, experience and commitment Friends groups bring”
She a went on to say that they were very encouraged by the openness of Councillor Shaheen and Wayne Stephenson, Assistant Director for Environmental Services and Culture. She felt they were listening and genuinely keen to work with the Friends groups and the community and recognised the valuable knowledge and experience Friends groups bring.
A tree by a waterbank under threat in a local park
Parks management in Hounslow has gone through many incarnations over the years transferring from one contractor to another, but with the same challenges remaining. The five groups say they hope that this first meeting is the start of a process to address long standing issues and release the potential of Friends Groups and dedicated parks staff.
This year a total of 21 of the borough’s parks have earned the prestigious Green Flag following inspections from judges. The annual awards are presented by the Tidy Britain Group in recognition of well-managed parks and green spaces.
In its latest corporate plan, Ambitious for Hounslow, the authority has made a commitment to invest £5m in the borough’s parks.
Cllr Shaheen said, "This fantastic result for Hounslow once again shows that we have some of the very best parks in London and proves just how committed we are to making the most of our borough’s open spaces.”
“It is clear that during the Covid-19 pandemic many people discovered our parks for the first time as havens to enjoy the open air, exercise and look after their mental and physical health. We want our parks and open spaces to continue to play this vital role in our borough as we continue to create a greener Hounslow.
“Achieving this high standard for our parks is a team effort. Our parks team and our partners have worked alongside our community groups and those residents who feel so passionately about these green spaces. We are keen to forge a closer relationship with the Friends Groups across our Borough whose passion and expertise are instrumental to the success of our parks. These Green Flag results are a testament to everyone’s hard work. We would like to thank all our partners for their efforts.”
The importance of this issue is felt to have increased with more of Hounslow’s growing population living in more dense and smaller accommodation with no access to gardens including families with children.
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August 2, 2022