Birmingham Parks Budget 2017 – Likely Effects

3. Likely effects

What happens if the proposed cuts are enacted? Let’s look at effects, and at whether we are motivated to challenge those cuts.

Withdraw all the park keepers?

No litter picking, no leaf-blowing, lots of overgrown shrubs/borders, no gritting, no reassuring presence, no lookout for anti-social behaviour. The impact on amenity and safety would be immediate, and very visible.

Would you feel safe going to a littered, unkempt park? Would you enjoy your visit less? A lot less?

Do you feel strongly enough about this that saying so to one of your councillors would convey real strength of feeling? Would be feel distress? Can you convey it? Alternatively, would you ask your councillors to outline the impacts of this cut? Have them talk through the consequences with you?

Reducing Ranger Hubs? Restrict them to land management, risk assessments and repairs for the most part?

I can’t figure quite what this means. But it sounds like Rangers would not be doing the thing they are most needed for: public engagement and volunteer management.

The rangers are an essential 3-way linchpin between nature, people and the council. Taking them away from that work means fewer volunteers, learning less, using parks less, doing less outdoors. The impact of this loss would be to leave parks and open spaces much more vulnerable to anti-social behaviour, and loss of amenity resource for the public.

If nature is a classroom, Rangers are the teachers. Taking them out of the classroom is a dereliction of duty. If greenspaces are a bus, Rangers are the conductor.

I feel quite strongly about this one. How anyone would come up with this as a proposal is problematic, ill-informed, or downright malicious. I am certain there are other ways of making savings, even though I have no access to evidence.

My comment to councillors and officers would be: go back to the drawing board; start over; think this one through properly. Come up with something that’s not so destructive of the public realm, public amenity, perceptions of safety, and so on.

Stop cutting 20% of the grass?

The immediate effect would be an increase in wind blown litter. Parks would look less tidy, and might put people off, or might give others the impression it’s okay to litter.

There are probably better ways of reducing mowing. Instead of reducing the area by 20%, reduce the frequency by 30-50%. Let the grass grow longer – but use a more powerful mower, every 2*N weeks instead of every N weeks.

Remove half of flower beds & shrub borders? Grass them over?

Grassing over borders means more mowing, right? Removing flowers and planting/mowing grass costs money. Or are the flower beds going wild?

Why not just plant zero-maintenance ground cover instead? The immediate impact of replanting flowers with grass is that it’s hardly a cost saving. Why throw good money after bad?

No more baskets & planters?

The immediate impact will be that city centre and neighbourhood high streets look a lot less pleasant. It may affect first impressions more than anything else, but will also mean some public spaces appear more barren, more desolate.

That’s a first turn through the impacts; other impacts can come from local knowledge about each park or open space.

Would the loss of park keepers or rangers mean:

  • More vandalism?
  • More fires?
  • More quad-bikes?
  • More drinking?
  • More cruising?
  • More fly-tipping?

The point here is to connect the dots between loss of a council-run service and loss of amenity, safety, community, health & wellbeing.

 Next Section – 4

Post 1072 by dglp

Published on December 27, 2016 ~ 10:23 PM

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