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The urban parks forum is urging government to implement the recommendations of an important report published today....
The urban parks forum is urging government to implement the recommendations of an important report published today. The report is that of the urban green spaces taskforce, set up by government to halt the decline of public parks and green spaces. It says that the government should set up a new agency, along the lines of the Sports Council and others, to champion England's greenspaces. The taskforce also recommends a new£500m funding initiative to improve existing parks and to create new ones.

The taskforce reportincorporates the findings of a survey just published by the urban parks forum 'The Public Parks Assessment'. This highly influential analysis is based on a survey, which gathered evidence from over 400 local authorities. The survey shows that only 18% of local parks can be classed as being in good condition, with the majority of parks classed as 'fair' or 'poor' continuing to decline.

The loss of funding is even more dramatic. The Public Parks Assessment found that, on average, every local authority in England would have to increase their budget by nearly a quarter of a million pounds just to match the funding of 20 years ago in real terms.

'These cuts make no sense if you believe that parks are good for health and help to reduce lost days from work and keep down the cost of the national health service,' says Jennifer Ullman, chair of the urban parks forum.

Alan Barber, urban parks forum director, adds, 'Parks are good for encouraging inward investment and making cities 'liveable'; it is difficult to see how there can be an 'urban renaissance' without arresting the present decline'.

The urban parks forum, an independent, not for profit organisation, is now seen as playing a major role as we all strive to secure the future of parks and greenspaces for the benefit of all. Added to this the forum is currently involved in close collaboration with the DTLR and the Heritage Lottery Fund to research, collate and disseminate information regarding the status of our parks.

The forum has subsequently set down far-reaching aims and objectives which state their remit: to support the regeneration of public parks, gardens and green spaces, locally, regionally and nationally; to be an advocate for the economic, social and environmental benefit of public parks, gardens and greenspaces; and to provide a forum for those committed to and involved in improving the quality of the design, care and maintenance of those spaces.

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