Eltham council wards become first in London to back National Park City

Two council wards in Eltham have become the first in London to sign up to support a campaign to turn the capital into the UK’s first National Park City.  Conservative councillors in Eltham South and Coldharbour & New Eltham have become the first in London to declare their support for the idea. 

The move follows attempts by Conservative councillor Matt Clare and opposition leader Matt Hartley to ensure that Royal Borough of Greenwich joins Ealing, Kingston and Sutton councils in supporting the plans.  A council motion backed by the Conservative Group was blocked by Labour councillors in June, with Labour Cabinet Member Jackie Smith speaking against the idea – despite Labour Assembly Members supporting a similar cross-party motion at City Hall.

The proposed National Park City would share similar purposes to the UK’s current 15 National Parks but would not have any formal planning powers – instead focusing on helping Londoners to learn how to benefit more from Londoners natural heritage and how, in return, London’s environment can benefit from them.

A recent poll of over 1,000 Londoners showed that 85 per cent believe turning London into a National Park City is a good idea and 84 per cent think the Mayor and London councils should support it.  Londoners agree that making the city a National Park City would make it a better place to live and visit (85%), benefit children (85%), help to protect and promote parks (88%), and improve Londoners’ health (83%).

Councillor Matt Clare, Greenwich Conservatives’ Environment Spokesperson, said:“The London National Park City will help preserve, develop and celebrate nature in London from supporting the fantastic work Parks Friends groups do to leading new street greening projects and inspiring affordable green housing. I urge other Councillors and residents to back this exciting initiative which will help London’s future generations grow up in cleaner air and more connected to nature.”

Councillor Matt Hartley, Leader of the Opposition in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, added:“It is a real shame that the Labour administration at Greenwich Council has been so reticent to support this campaign – especially as it requires no public funding and has attracted cross-party support in other parts of the capital.  I hope they will reconsider and give this bold and imaginative idea the council’s formal backing.  In the meantime, Greenwich Conservative councillors will continue to lead the way on this.”

The organisation that would be created to look after the National Park City would be funded through private giving and commercial services – and the proposal does not ask for any public sector funding from either local or central government.

Speaking ahead of the campaign’s launch, Daniel Raven-Ellison, one of the founders of The Greater London National Park City Initiative, said:“London is world famous for its history, culture and commerce. Let’s become a green Capital too – we have a long and proud tradition of caring for our natural heritage and green space in London. We have the people, the community groups and the expertise. Making London a National Park City will take our great city to a new level and Londoners have the power to make this happen – they just need to add their name to our website.”

Conservative councillors representing Eltham South – Matt Clare, Mark Elliott and Nuala Geary – and Coldharbour and New Eltham – John Hills, Mandy Brinkhurst and Matt Hartley – have signed up as ward teams to support the idea, becoming the first two wards to back the idea across London.Residents can sign up to back the proposal at www.nationalparkcity.london