Leicester City Council’s parks service has been named Britain’s Best Parkforce.
The Parkforce Awards, which celebrate the valuable work being done by thousands of park workers across Britain, were launched earlier in the year by CABE (the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) as part of a campaign to encourage councils across England to pledge to have dedicated staff present during daylight hours in every significant urban park.
Leicester’s Parkforce has had a significant impact on preventing crime and anti-social behaviour (a 15% reduction in the last 2 years alone), a reduction in arson attacks on the parks and a huge increase in park use.
The judges were looking for the local authority that had made the most significant use of its parks staff in making their city’s parks cleaner, greener and wonderful places for people from the local community to enjoy.
The judges applauded Leicester for the comprehensive plan that has been put in place to reverse years of decline in the budgets and maintenance of the city’s parks service, and for the recognition that a vibrant Parkforce has been crucial to turning the situation around. The staff has also been instrumental in organising school litter picking events, family fun days and tree and bulb planting to encourage local communities to spend more time in their parks.
Leicester was commended particularly for their understanding of how important good parks staff are to the general wellbeing of local communities, working with the Police service and the local Primary Care Trust to keep their community safe and healthy. The City Council was praised for investing in their Parkforce with a strong programme to develop formal qualifications for their staff.
The City Council’s parks service beat four other local authorities for the coveted award including the London boroughs of Islington and Lewisham, Bury and runners-up, Leeds City Council. The judges felt that Leeds demonstrated a long-term commitment to their Parkforce and embraced the principles of the Parkforce campaign enthusiastically. They scored highly on sustainability and cross team working.
Baroness Andrews, Parks Minister, said:
‘It is so important that our parks are well cared for and that people feel safe using them. I applaud the winners of these awards for successfully delivering cleaner, safer, greener communities. With the help of a strong Parkforce we can put parks at the heart of their community. My hope is that with our commitment within government, and the obvious commitment on the ground, we can all continue to enjoy the renaissance we are seeing in our urban green spaces. Awards like Parkforce will help us work towards everyone having access to a park they can be proud to have in their neighbourhood.’
The awards are the latest development in CABE’s Parkforce campaign, which was launched last autumn. More than 130 local authorities have signed the Parkforce pledge to increase investment in their parks staff. 12,000 Parkforce badges are being worn by park workers across the country.
Further information about the awards can be found on the CABE website at www.cabe.org.uk/parkforce*.
*Leicester City Council is not responsible for the content and services on external websites.