BPF Response to Budget Consultation

R-PL-005 Parks

Reduce work specification for parks, ground maintenance contracts Re-letting contract in 2015 and reducing the specification of works in parks. This will enable essential functions such as, but not limited to, litter picking and grass cutting to take place in all parks and green spaces.

Saving £500,000 in 2014

The BPF are seriously concerned by this proposal.

Bristol City has in the past been recognised for the high standards of its parks and green spaces.

In 2012 Bristol City was awarded Gold by Entente Florale Europe

In 2013 Bristol also achieved 12 Green Flag Awards for its Parks.

In addition Bristol has achieved numerous successes in the RHS Britain in Bloom competition, notably Achieving Gold in 2011 and Silver Gilt in 2010 and 2013 for the Large City Category and in 2013 31 entries in the RHS Its your Neighbourhood Category 12 of which achieved outstanding.

This has shown a clear commitment by both Bristol City Council and its residents to ensuring Bristol is a vibrant green city.

The BPF believes the proposals to reduce the maintenance budget by £500,000 poses a real threat to achieving the standards that have been hard won and achieved by Bristol City Council and its residents.

In 2008 with full participation of the BPF and friends of parks groups Bristol City adopted the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy. This sets out the minimum standards for parks and green spaces to include quality, quantity and distance standards that should be achieved.

With the proposed cuts being introduced in 2014 Bristol City Council may inadvertently put back the state of Bristol Parks 10 years when it was realised that the City’s parks were in much need of regular programmed maintenance, investment and care.

Bristol rose to the challenge and we are almost at a point where we have turned the tide and with continued impetuous the parks and green spaces strategy could be realised. To remove essential maintenance funding would undoubtedly cause serious harm to our parks and green spaces.

Nature Conservation works could be seriously affected by the proposed cuts and the impacts have not been addressed in this proposal.

Without the current levels of maintenance parks and green spaces run the risk of becoming unkempt, unloved litter strewn areas that do not do justice to all the hard work that has gone before..A bleak picture.

We realise that in these times of austerity savings have to be made and with the help and involvement of the BPF and citizens of Bristol we are sure that savings could be made but not in the timescales proposed. The current grounds maintenance contracts run until 2015 and will be re-tendered during 2014. This is the ideal opportunity to look at how the parks and green spaces are maintained and explore options, but any savings would not be seen until 2015/16.

If the proposed cuts have to be realised in Bristol in 2014/15 then it would require short-term measures to be taken for that year. There would either be disproportionate cut in the areas of the City covered by the in-house teams (with associated job losses) or re-negotiations of the existing contracts, something which is likely to produce cuts to services out of proportion to the savings achieved.

We are, in any event, concerned that even with the opportunity to re-negotiate contracts a £500k cut would mean a fall in standards such that Bristol would have to withdraw from the Green Flag awards scheme, Britain in Bloom and other such initiatives and concentrate on providing basic maintenance to a much lower standard to all parks city- wide. Maintenance of benches and other park furniture would undoubtedly suffer. Commitments to fund maintenance for facilities funded by external grants such as the Lottery would not be met; meaning that some of this money might have to be returned. This would undo all the work done before to create parks of high standards for the citizens of Bristol and its many visitors that come to enjoy them.

R-PL-012 Trees

Review tree planting and maintenance service All future tree planting will be absorbed into the PIPs (planting in primary schools) tree planting scheme (involving primary school children) which will introduce 36,000 new trees to the city over 3 years.

Saving £200,000 in 2014, £100,000 in 2015

Tree maintenance is essential to the health of Bristol’s Trees, This proposed cut of £300,000 over 2 years will result in the deterioration of Bristol Trees health, many of which provide an essential part of our street scene. Parks and estates already do the minimum amount of works required on trees within the parks so it is difficult to see how budget savings can be made without causing neglect. We are also concerned that all future planting is proposed to be absorbed into the PIPs project, thus resulting in no street trees or trees of any adequate size being planted using revenue funding due to the costs of planting such trees, the only such option in this case will be developer or sponsor funding. With the proposed savings and tree planting being absorbed into the PIPs project, there is also real concern that at the end of the PIPs project Bristol City will be left with no adequate tree planting and maintenance service.

R-PL-019 Public Toilets

Review public toilet provision

Closure of 22 of the 23 public toilets across the city, except the weekend temporary toilets in the city centre and keeping one city centre toilet open. Increased promotion of the toilet scheme where cafes and other business allow customers to use their toilets and use of other public buildings in those areas.

Saving £500,000 in 2014

Public toilets are essential for many people, including children, vulnerable adults such as those with learning disabilities and the elderly who regularly use our parks and the provision of toilets is much needed. Without public toilets in the parks there is the potential for an increased public health risk and reduction of service user enjoyment.

Bristol also welcomes and promotes its parks and green spaces to the thousands of visitors each year who will require these essential facilities whilst enjoying our parks and green spaces.

We welcome initiatives that can take the responsibility of running public toilets and link these to cafe concessions where appropriate but must strongly object to their closure in parks. We are also concerned that toilets seem to have been shortlisted just because of their aspect towards a street, which shows no consideration for their need within the park itself.

R-PL-014 Parks

Review Environment and Leisure project team This team works with the Park groups and Environmental sub groups in delivering improvements and schemes that maintain and improve parks. This proposal will offset costs within the revenue budget and recharge them to capital schemes or development projects.

Saving £278,000 in 2014

This proposal is unclear and as such the BPF has some serious concerns. Section 106 monies have already been devolved for parks improvements to the local community. These funds are much needed to pay for the improvements and any attempt to use these funds for management purposes will ultimately mean very few if any projects are realised by the community.

However we do welcome that all future capital projects should be fully costed to include BCC project management. We would also welcome competitive tendering for all projects above minimum threshold. It must also be noted that a team needs to be in place to enable this process of tendering and bidding for monies and no mention in the proposals of such a team has been made.


Stop supervision of Hengrove play area (plus other Estates savings)

Updated proposal: Stop supervision at Hengrove play area so that it is the same as other play areas across the city (£120k); raise income through efficient running of kiosks across all estates (£80k). Review all Estates operation to identify further £100k in year two, not anticipated to affect Hengrove play area and subject to consultation next year.

The BPF cannot support any proposals that would adversely affect the provision of current play facilities of children. The lack of detail and in this proposal and how the play facilities will be maintained to enable the continued safe play of children who use the site needs to be addressed.

Bristol Parks Forum Committee

December 2013