Parks in chaos as Council cheats to hit ‘Green Flag’ target

Greenwich Conservatives today raised concerns over the Council’s planning and spending on parks across the borough as the website ‘Greenwich.co.uk’ revealed that the Labour Council had cheated to claim that 13 parks across the borough had reached ‘Green Flag’ status when in fact only ten had done so.

The misleading claims over the number of parks which had achieved Green Flag status arose from the inclusion in the total number of green flag parks of ‘Green Pennant’ spaces (which have now been reclassified as ‘Green Flag Community Awards’) when the target had originally only been for ‘Green Flag Awards’. 

In June of last year the Council allocated £441,000 to certain parks simply to ensure they achieved Green Flag status, but two failed to do this despite this substantial injection of funds.  The two parks who failed to achieve Green Flag status were Maryon Park and Eaglesfield Park.

This failure comes as Conservatives raise concerns over the work completed by the Council in Avery Hill Park following it being awarded £400,000 in 2009 by Mayor of London Boris Johnson.  Eltham South Councillor Adam Thomas (in whose ward Avery Hill Park is based) has asked the Council for reassurance that the work in the park will be completed soon, commented “I know that the Friends of Avery Hill Park have worked very hard in getting the funding from Boris, who has, quite rightly, rewarded that hard work with the necessary funding.  I fear that Greenwich Council’s incompetence in building an inappropriate stage and not moving forward with other key elements of the scheme has not resulted in funds being lost or clawed back as a result of any delays.”

In Hornfair Park, the Council agreed almost £300,000 to build over the bowling green with new tennis courts which should have opened in July 2012, but as usual are still not finished.  This follows on from Conservatives highlighting the mess the Council was making of restoring Hornfair Lido and maintaining pressure for a proper, realistic scheme which is hopefully now being delivered. 

Conservatives suspect that the reason for the many failures in parks policy are linked to the political mismanagement and constant reassignment of responsibility for managing our parks.  Ten years ago the Council’s Parks and Open Spaces department won the Local Government Chronicle’s “Grounds Maintenance Contractor of the Year” (2003) but after many changes, Greenwich’s parks currently appear to be managed by the Council’s Communications Department. 

Leader of Greenwich Conservatives Cllr Spencer Drury said “The Friends of parks across Greenwich do a wonderful job in caring for their green spaces, but our Council seems to have little understanding of how to help them.  All the evidence is that the Council is throwing money at problems in an ill planned and badly judged way which simply cannot be justified as a time of austerity. 

In a real paper the article on Green Flag status would have been titled ‘Council misses target despite spending £441,000’ but in Royal Greenwich Time this chaos assumes the role of a great victory. 

The care of parks and use of propaganda is shameful and the Greenwich Labour Party should start trying to understand what residents want rather than focusing on grandiose schemes and concreting over green space.”


Notes on article: 

  • The work which should have been completed to a good standard in Avery Hill Park on behalf of the Mayor of London includes:
  • While building over a bowling green in Hornfair Park, the Council has allocated £30,000 to re-level the bowling green in Blackheath.  See Cabinet Report 21st June 2011 for Blackheath spend and a delegated Cabinet Member’s decision on Hornfair Park in March 2012.