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The Herald is today carrying a story titled:

“Warning lack of investment putting public parks at risk”

At the heart of the story is a report by the Heritage Lottery Fund – State of UK Public Parks 2014.

The report is lengthy but there is a clear narrative in the conclusion and the associated press association copy:

“In addition to calling for continued investment by local authorities, the report also highlights the need for developing new ways of looking after and funding parks.” Press Association

New finance models and rethinking delivery
The future health and vitality of parks services will be dependent on developing new business models for management to complement those that currently exist.” State of UK Public Parks 2014 Conclusion

This is the second story pushing a parks-in-crisis narrative in as many months. The recent Evening Times article – City in cash plea to public to help parks – had its roots in a report for Nesta titled “Rethinking Parks – Exploring New Business Models for Parks in the 21st Century”.

Concerns that these reports are driven by the commercial interests that stand to gain most from the privatisation of public parks are shared in some in the comments following the Guardian’s story:

“There is an agenda behind this morning’s coverage on the BBC. Drew Bennellick was inviting “private investment”… and we know where that heads.

1: Invent a crisis
2: Cure it with a ‘private investment opportunity’”

This strategy (crisis narrative followed by market-based-solution) – a well-known lobbying/PR technique – has been used to considerable effect in the push to privatise the NHS in England:

“For the entire length of 2013, the NHS came under relentless attack on grounds of “quality” by politicians and the right-wing press, driving the privatisation agenda.” The Guardian

You can write to your politicians here

 

 

Lessons Learned Review

George Square GCC Update

City's parks under threat

City’s parks ‘at risk’

The Evening Times is today running an article titled “City in cash plea to help parks”. The gist of the story is that Glasgow’s parks need additional private and public investment or they risk deterioration and disappearing altogether.

It includes comments from GCC’s Land and Environment Director, Brian Devlin:

“Scotland’s urban parks and green spaces are at risk”

And from (disgraced former SPT chair) Alistair Watson, GCC’s Land and Environment ‘spokesman’ :

“MyParkGlasgow will involve Glaswegians and businesses by giving them a real say in what parks and open space projects they would like to support.”

The Evening Times article follows this GCC report outlining plans for a “MyParkScotland & Greenspaces fund” which will (according to the report):

  • Establish a “giving” website dedicated to Glasgow (and Scotland wide) Parks & Openspaces.
  • Encourage “giving” from local and multinational organisations and individuals to support Glasgow parks and openspaces projects.
  • Establish a local panel made up from the establishment of a “Friends of Glasgow Parks forum”, local communities groups and local businesses.

The document also outlines plans to establish a “MyParkGlasgow Fund Local Panel” which would be to “identify and put forward projects and recommend the spending of monies in the MyParkGlasgow Fund on local parks and green space projects that need financial support.”

It would be “intended” this panel would include “the local business sector” and the Glasgow business lobby, the Chamber of Commerce. (“George Square can also be a driver of business”)

The document then outlines some next steps which include seeking funding from Nesta’s “Rethinking Parks” project. You can read more about Rethinking Parks here:

“Exploring New Business Models for Parks in the 21st Century”

These plans, which further open Glasgow’s public spaces up to private interests follow the controversial new parks rules proposals (which include giving more powers over our parks to GCC quangos with commercial membership) and the shambolic ‘redevelopment’ of Glasgow’s famous public park, George Square.

The current state of George Square, and its continued deterioration serve as a stark reminder of what can happen to public spaces when they are opened up to private interests.

You can write to your councillor here

 

The proposed rules include:

  • giving new powers to quangos (including those with a commercial membership) to refuse admission to Glasgow’s parks
  • giving the Director of Land and Environmental Services the power to remove public access rights to any park at any time
  • A cycle speed limit of 5mph (but motorised vehicles a 10mph limit)
  • Requiring written consent to “play or practice any organised sport”
  • A ban on gathering in numbers of more than 20.

You can read Glasgow City Council’s committee document here and the proposed rules here

A petition opposing elements of the review is currently nearing 5,000 signatures.

You can also write to your councillor quickly via the www.writetothem.com website

Glasgow City Council’s consultation page on their website invites us to write to

les@glasgow.gov.uk
Land and Environmental Services
Parks Management Rules
Exchange House
231 George St
Glasgow 
G1 1RX

before the 14 February 2014 to object

This is from an article in the Daily Record in 1998 and documents the felling of George Square’s famous Swedish White Beam trees:

“THE last of the historic trees in Glasgow’s George Square was felled yesterday – under the cover of darkness.

Glasgow City Council chiefs insist the trees – victims of Dutch Elm disease – were rotting, and a danger to the public.

But even they admit the pounds 200,000 revamp of the square could have been handled much better.

Last night, a council spokesman was at the ready, insisting new trees would be arriving Tuesday.

It will take more than that, though, to win-round a sceptical Glasgow public that was never warned of the re-vamp.”

Read the article in full here http://bit.ly/1dVrboe

Glasgow 1980 (1971) from TheGMan1974 on Vimeo.

The Joint Memorandum of Understanding between Glasgow City Council and the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce lobby.

Taken from Facebook.com/restoregeorgesquare

The “Tax Increment Financing” (TIF) part of the Buchanan Galleries expansion is spent on public infrastructure improvements (public realm, streetscape, repairing cathedral street bridge, George Square etc, as a way of smartening up the surrounding area for the gazillions of new shoppers who will use the expanded mall. The TIF is a 25 year mortgage which the Council takes out to pay for its part of this and reckons to pay back from the higher business rates it will get from the Buchanan galleries and surrounding areas. The business case on which the (Labour) council and (SNP) government approved this scheme was based on the assumption that the worst case retail growth will be better over the next 25 years than it has been over the past 25 years. The developers do chip in a bit too but the council still has the TIF mortgage to pay off in the end.

Glasgow City Centre Strategy and Action Plan 2013-18