The Open Spaces Society, that campaigns to protect people’s right to enjoy parks, paths and other open spaces, has accused local authorities, including Lambeth, of using parks for “inappropriate commercial activities”. Lambeth council deny the accusation saying it is aware of the need to balance different interests, funding pressures and environmental quality pressures.
Paul Clayden, president of the charity that was founded in 1865, told its annual general meeting in London today (5 July) that: “Public parks are under unprecedented pressure, 50 years after a law which was intended to protect and improve the countryside close to people’s homes”.
This week is the 50th anniversary of the Countryside Act 1968 that enables local authorities to create country parks and to “conserve and enhance natural beauty”.
Clayden said: “In these cash-strapped times, local authorities are selling or neglecting their parks … they use the parks for inappropriate commercial activities to the detriment of the local population.
“Brockwell Park in Lambeth, Clapham Common, Lambeth, and Finsbury Park, Haringey, are just a few London examples.”
He said the Open Spaces Society argues for authorities to have a duty to manage and care for parks and to have sufficient resources to do so.
It backs a new Charter for Parks launched by the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces representing a coalition of organisations.
It calls for every citizen to have access, within walking distance, to a good quality public green space, and for an end to “inappropriate development and abuse of parks”.
The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 and is Britain’s oldest national conservation body. It campaigns to protect common land, village greens, open spaces and public paths, and people’s right to enjoy them.
Cllr Sonia Winifred, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Culture, said: “Lambeth has been praised for our parks and open spaces, with 14 Green Flag awards and a ranking of number 1 in the Good Parks for London report released recently.
“Our parks are enjoyed by all our residents, as well as visitors to the borough, for many different activities and we are well aware of the balance that needs to be struck between different interests, funding pressures and environmental quality.
“We value our parks as one of the most positive and important aspects of our wonderful borough and we work incredibly hard to maintain and improve them so they can be enjoyed by all.”