Council sells off parks as part of rescue package

Stadt Moers Park
Stadt Moers Park

Council chiefs in Knowsley have agreed to hand over 10 per cent of the borough parks and green space for new development as part of a rescue package for the cash-strapped authority.

The recommendation, put forward by the Knowsley Parks and Green Spaces Review Board, was unanimously agreed on Tuesday (November 28) by the council’s cabinet.

It will protect forever 90 per cent of Knowsley’s parks and green spaces, through the surrender of 10 per cent of the borough’s parks and green spaces for new development over the next 15 years.

The income received will create a £40 million 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 per cent of Knowsley’s parks, forever.

As a result of continuing cuts by Government, Knowsley Council’s funding for parks and green spaces will stop in March 2019.

This new model will see the council’s funding replaced by the interest generated from the endowment fund.

This will be protected from any future council budget cuts and therefore will safeguard the future of the borough’s parks forever.

At the meeting, the Cabinet also 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.

These are:

Alt Park (part of)

Broad Lane Playing Fields

Copthorne (adjacent community centre not included)

Court Hey Park (part of – pending separate tender exercise relating to the future of former National Wildflower Centre)

Cowper Way

Field Lane

Finch Wood

Frederick Lunt Playing Fields

Grace Park

Halewood Doorstep Green (part of)

King George V Playing Fields, Prescot

Pool Hey Playing Fields

Roby Playing Fields (adjacent community centre not included)

St John’s Millennium Green

Spring Wood

Syders Grove (part of)

Westview

The remaining 144 sites across the borough will be protected for public use forever, as a result of this action.

Council leader Andy Moorhead 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 70s and 80s with the gradual deterioration of these wonderful community assets.

“This council will not tolerate such a prospect and we therefore accept the findings of the Parks and Green Spaces Review Board and its recommendation to create a charitable trust to run our parks from April 2019.”

He added: “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.”