Knowsley Council has agreed to sell off 10% of its parks and green spaces in order to secure funding for the continued management of the remaining sites, which it said will be protected “forever”.
The recommendation, put forward by the Knowsley Parks & Green Spaces Review Board, was unanimously agreed last night at cabinet and will see the various plots released over the course of 15 years.
The income received will create a £40m endowment which will be held in and managed by a newly-created charitable trust. The interest generated from this endowment will then be used by the trust, to fund the future maintenance and care of the remaining 90% of Knowsley’s parks from April 2019 onwards in perpetuity.
The council decided this year that with government cuts continuing to bite, it could no longer afford the annual £1.3m it costs to maintain its parks, leading to a review of its options. Knowsley has lost £86m due to budget cuts since 2010 and faces a further £14.8m in cuts up to 2020.
At the meeting, the cabinet agreed a resolution to ensure all 18 of Knowsley’s ‘green flag’ parks are protected from any new development whilst retaining their national standard status, with the exception of part of Court Hey Park which is currently subject to a separate tender exercise relating to the future of the former National Wildflower Centre. It also published a list of the 17 parkland areas it now plans to surrender over the next 15 years.
- Part of Alt Park, Huyton
- Broad Lane Playing Fields, Kirkby
- Copthorne, adjacent community centre not included, Kirkby
- Part of Court Hey Park – pending separate tender exercise relating to the future of former National Wildflower Centre
- Cowper Way, Huyton
- Field Lane, Fazakerley
- Finch Wood
- Frederick Lunt Playing Fields
- Grace Park
- Part of Halewood Doorstep Green
- King George V Playing Fields, Prescot
- Pool Hey Playing Fields
- Roby Playing Fields, adjacent community centre not included
- St John’s Millennium Green, Knowsley
- Spring Wood, Huyton
- Part of Syders Grove, Prescot
The remaining 144 sites across the borough will be protected.
Cllr Andy Moorhead, leader of Knowsley Council, said: “This council has had £86m ripped from our budget by central government since 2010, which means we simply cannot afford to maintain and manage our parks in the way we have done previously.
“This new community-based trust model safeguards the future of our parks and green spaces for generations to come. If we don’t act now we will see a return to the 1970s and 1980s with the gradual deterioration of these wonderful community assets. This council will not tolerate such a prospect.
“During the consultation, the message we heard loud and clear was that our residents and communities wanted certainty and were keen to know, quickly, which parks and green spaces would be considered for sale as part of new model. That’s why we have prioritised this work and using the criteria set out by the Board, feedback from the market research and public consultation, along with our own local understanding, have been able to identify the list of parkland areas for sale.”
Gideon Ben-Tovim, a veteran of Merseyside civic life, having been a long-serving councillor of the Princes Park ward, chaired the review board. He said: “This has been a thorough and comprehensive consultation exercise and we are confident that our recommendations provide Knowsley with a credible solution that will protect the vast majority of the borough’s parks and green spaces for future generations.”