We want to ensure that all country parks and green spaces in Buckinghamshire can be enjoyed by future generations, especially as the county is expected to see thousands of new homes built, making public green spaces all the more important.
However, as a result of wider funding and financial constraints we face, the authority needs to respond to these challenges today by carefully researching measured, innovative and enduring solutions to the wider financial and funding constraints.
In September 2009, Cabinet agreed that a major review of Buckinghamshire’s country parks and green spaces should be undertaken. Cabinet agreed that a number of options should be explored to gain initial ‘expressions of interest’ from a diverse range of organisations, including public groups, environmental charities and trusts through a process called Market Testing.
The management models being considered and explored:
We have begun exploring five different options of a new management structures, these are as follows:
- In house but with greater freedoms, for example setting up a separate country parks trading account with the abilities to carry money over from one year to the next. Therefore allowing longer investment planning;
- Transfer to or contract with a/or a number of public sector organisations, for example parish councils;
- Transfer to a public sector shared management model, for example other local authority partners;
- Transfer to an environmental not for profit Trust. (A Trust could be local or national in scale, already within Bucks or neighbouring area);
- All options shown above or a combination will be considered;
We have liaised with authorities from across the UK who have undertaken similar projects with their respective country parks and green spaces. This enables us to take on board the positive aspects and note the ‘learning's' from similar projects that have not achieved their original aims.
We have also approached town and parish councils with a green space located within their boundaries. Initial responses from these councils are coming in, but a number have already stated they would be interested in managing a particular green space in the future, as they believe it could be an additional benefit for both their residents and visitors.
Early results and feedback are showing us that one single management model is unlikely to fit every park and every green space. Instead a mixture of models is likely to be the best option, when the project moves to its next stage in Spring 2010.