Knowsley parks plan agreed by cabinet

Knowsley Council’s cabinet has agreed unanimously that a charitable trust to manage the borough’s green spaces should be established, as the local authority seeks to raise funds to manage its parks following funding cuts.

The council revealed plans in autumn 2017 to sell off 10% of its parks estate, with the spaces that the council deems most suitable for sale being named in November.

The Shaping a New Future for Knowsley’s Parks report was agreed by cabinet in November, but called in for further consideration by the council’s sustainable borough scrutiny committee, which made a set of recommendations. The cabinet has considered these and voted again.

The recommendations largely concerned establishing a robust business case before any assets are sold, providing clarity for the workforce involved in parks management and appropriate engagement with ward members, parish and town councils about spaces being sold.

The cabinet confirmed that a final decision on the establishment of a trust and its funding will not take place until November this year, with the executive director of place now tasked with assessing in detail the council’s ability to establish an endowment fund which will support parks management for 100 years.

In addition, it said that it is satisfied that the community has already been consulted, with more than 2,500 responses to consultation, and that it had named the sites already because it cannot progress with realistic business case planning without the sites being identified.

An outline business case will be considered by the scrutiny committee this summer before a final decision is made on the full business case.

Cllr Andy Moorhead, leader of the council, said: “We know that our proposals for the future management of parks and green spaces are a big decision for the borough and one that we must get right.

“As a cabinet, we’re only too well aware that taking no action to protect our parks and green spaces is not an option. With funding running out from April next year we have a responsibility to think creatively.

“This is not a decision we have come to lightly – and it was not a decision we made alone. The recommendations we’ve agreed were put forward following extensive consultation and research by the independent Parks Review Board who were asked to find the best solution. This is about protecting parks, not taking them away.”

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