The Open Spaces Society, Britain’s oldest national conservation body, has launched its Save Our Spaces campaign, to tackle the mounting threats to public open spaces throughout England and Wales.
The Open Spaces Society has written to its members to seek their support for its work in defending green spaces from the double whammy of neglect and commercial exploitation.
In London, the society has helped Save Battersea Park to stop the Formula E motor race from trashing Battersea Park, Wandsworth; it is fighting Brent Council’s plans to use its parks to generate income; it has helped to stop Westminster Council from renting the Victoria Embankment Gardens to a theatre company, and it hopes to join the Friends of Finsbury Park’s case in the court of appeal to stop the Wireless Festival which, the society argues, would be illegal in the park.
Across England and Wales, the society is, among other battles:
- campaigning to save green spaces in Bridgend, South Wales,
- working to prevent Harrogate Borough Council from loosening the Harrogate Stray Act 1985 which would allow new, extensive commercial events on that great open space,
- opposing the abuse of Heaton Park, Manchester, for a large festival,
- fighting a scheme to build private tennis-courts at Gosforth Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, and
- backing its members in contesting Southampton City Council’s plan to close most of Mayflower Park for a trade show.
In the countryside, the society is fighting the sale of downland by Brighton and Eastbourne Councils, and Lancashire County Council’s plan to flog off its country parks.
Says the society’s case officer Nicola Hodgson: ‘With local authorities slashing their budgets and desperate to make money, our open spaces are at unprecedented risk of neglect and commercial exploitation.
‘In September we made a submission to the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee inquiry on public parks, calling for local authorities to be given a statutory duty to provide, manage and maintain parks and open spaces, and for better protection for these vital public assets.
‘The Open Spaces Society is leading the campaign to protect our green spaces which have never been more crucial for our health and happiness.’
For more information about the Open Spaces Society please visit: www.oss.org.uk