Issue - meetings

Reviewing the delivery of parks and trees maintenance services

Meeting: 29/06/2022 - Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Item 3)

3 Reviewing the delivery of parks and trees maintenance services pdf icon PDF 548 KB

Wards: All

 

Report authorised by: Bayo Dosunmu: Strategic Director for Resident Services

 

Contact for enquiries: Kevin Crook, Assistant Director Neighbourhoods (Parks, Leisure and Cemeteries), 020 7926 8973, kcrook@lambeth.gov.uk

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Sustainable Lambeth and Clean Air, Councillor Rezina Chowdhury, introduced the item and stated:

·           Lambeth had pledged to plant 5,000 trees in the borough, as part of the Tree Planting and Tree Risk Management strategies.

·           The Parks Service worked closely with other council teams, external organisations, and volunteers to deliver parks and green spaces for physical exercise, leisure and food growing.

·           Lambeth had been the highest performing parks service in London in 2020 and second in 2021.

·           Volunteers were essential to ensure parks were welcoming, well-maintained and treasured spaces.

 

The Committee next heard from Ann Kingsbury, Lambeth Parks and Open Spaces Forum (LPOSF) and Brockwell Community Partners, as follows:

·           The Parks Forum’s main concern was funding, with overspends each year just for maintenance.

·           Parks were used by a majority of persons in the borough but was under-resourced.

·           Maintenance was back in-house, saving considerable capital, but now had a modest budget.

·           In-house services improved public engagement and the relationship with the Parks Forum meant that issues were not getting lost in complexities of service management.

·           Brockwell Park Community Partners had pushed for partnership working, which brought together the community, officers, and Members to allow for strategic planning, which was a moderate success, had been a role model for other parks and was excellent for operational working.

·           Some political decisions were difficult and where partnership working sat within the Council’s decision-making required resolution.

·           Volunteers were essential to develop amenities for park users, as eyes and ears, fundraisers, builders and being able to input into their communities; the newly formed Friends of Loughborough Park’s developed neglected area was recorded as a volunteer project.

·           Parks were vitally important and produced significant benefits.

 

Simon Millson, Vice Chair on LPOSF and Chair of Clapham Common MAC, next provided the following evidence to the Committee:

·           The Parks team’s engagement was praised, with direct and open communications, a willing- and eager-ness to work in partnership; and improved speed and quality since coming back in-house.

·           The capacity to deliver and accountability for delivery needed improvement as there was not enough people to consistently deliver first-class services for communities.

·           Projects could get lost in council mechanisms and deliberations, whilst parks needed to ensure they delivered to planting seasons and Friend groups and MACs needed more autonomy.

·           Autonomy and increasing Council resources, such as hiring parks managers for single parks, would result in higher quality and quantity, and improve accountability and reasonability.

 

The Committee then heard from Thomas Stanbury, Co-Chair of Friends of Hillside Gardens:

·           Hillside Gardens Friends were frustrated by recent Council works, prioritising the central path thoroughfare resurfacing, whilst the tennis courts were only recently started and this required a complaint to be made and there was still no play park. 

·           Funding was used on items the Friends did not prioritise, and the Friends had to complain to receive a further award to undertake other items of work.

 

Steph Charalambous, Co-Chair of Friends of Hillside Gardens, then informed the Committee that:

·           Hillside Gardens did not have  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3