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House of Commons Hansard
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Walsall Arboretum: park organisation
18 June 2019
Volume 662

The petition of residents of the United Kingdom

Declares that Walsall MBC's decision to restructure the management of Walsall Arboretum in Walsall South constituency was made with no consultation with the public; further that the changes leave the Arboretum with no onsite management and no dedicated management team; further that these changes return the management of the Arboretum to the situation it was in prior to investment by the Heritage Lottery; and further notes a related petition on this matter on change.org with over 1200 signatures.

The petitioners therefore request the House of Commons to urge Walsall MBC to consult the public about the changes and restore the posts of Arboretum Manager and Events Co-ordinator dedicated to ensuring the activities, events, care and maintenance of the Arboretum continue.

And the petitioners remain, etc. —[Presented by Valerie Vaz , Official Report, 4 June 2019; Vol. 661, c. 107 .]

[P002457]

Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (Rishi Sunak):

The Government recognise the value of parks and green spaces in providing vibrant and inclusive locations for communities to socialise, volunteer, work, and exercise. They recognise that green spaces foster health, well-being, integration, and social engagement. The Government are committed to working to safeguard the future of parks and green spaces.

Ultimately spending on parks is a matter for local authorities; where local authorities have prioritised the protection, and indeed expansion, of Green Spaces they have found the funds to do so. We will not dictate to local authorities how they should allocate spending.

Local authorities act independently of central Government. Ministers have no remit to intervene in the day-to-day affairs of local authorities, except where specific provision has been made in an Act of Parliament. Local authorities are ultimately accountable for their actions to their electorate.

Councils must, of course, comply with the legislation that governs them, including their decision-making process, as well as complying with their own standing orders and constitution. Where a member of the public has a concern about a decision, action or service of a local authority, our advice is that first and foremost they make a formal complaint using the local authority’s formal complaints system

In the last six months my Department has invested £15 million in the parks and green spaces agenda with £9.7 million to local authorities to improve their green spaces; £3.75 million to the Pocket Parks Plus programme and £1.2 million to the Heritage Lottery Fund and National Trust “Future Parks Accelerator” programme to support improvements to parks and green spaces over the longer term. In addition, £500k to the Parks Action Group has helped deliver a co-ordinator role, research into green infrastructure, promotion of a skills event and a new community empowerment work stream.