Revealed: Just how little Greenwich Council are spending on parks

Last week Greenwich Council passed a motion on obesity levels in the borough with some admirable aims. The area sits above the London and UK average for overweight people and near the bottom for life expectancy.

The motion stated “We are one of the most proactive councils in London in terms of embracing initiatives in order to improve the lives of our residents.”

Crumbling public park on Abbey Wood/Plumstead border.

At the very same meeting a question from Eltham South Conservative Councillor Nigel Fletcher on how much developer income derived from Section 106 had been spent on improving parks over the past year revealed it to be just 0.3%.

Of course, Conservative central government have sharply cut back on funding for local authorities so Greenwich are in a tough spot. But are they using income they do have wisely?

The reply showed that despite combined Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy payments from developers likely topping £90 million last year (an estimated total as the authority has yet to release full Section 106 income last year as now obliged by law – in 2015/16 they received £91 million in S106 payments) just £256k has been spent on parks over the past year, and £177k of that was for a masterplan:

Abbey Wood park

The images in this article are taken around Abbey Wood, which recently saw a development proposed that will pay £272,000 to GLLaB and not a penny for parks such as those pictured. This happens again and again. Is a better balance possible?

It once again highlights a vast disparity in how income is spent and how spending contradicts the authority’s stated goals. It’s all well and good having targets for public health in council reports but it counts for little when not spending S106 and CIL on encouraging healthy living.

Greenwich are apparently pursuing these areas:

Some of these areas are covered by other public health schemes yet better public space and parks must surely be part of any holistic strategy.

Banning fizzy drinks in schools is one part of a process – but if a local park is unwelcoming it wont be well used after school.

It’s not just obesity that better parks could alleviate – but youth problems too. If children have well maintained, welcoming, safe parks then violence would be discouraged.

And then there’s mental health. Good quality parks and open spaces work wonders in that area.

They could also be the hub of communities – and where good ones exist they very often are. But too many rundown parks are not being supported right now.

The old spending priorities

Yes, GLLaB does good stuff and employment and training is important but not to the complete detriment of almost everything else. A far better balance is needed in how vast amounts of income from new build housing and shops is being spent.

In recent weeks people have been asking questions on how and why S106 and CIL is spent the way it is. There’s been some answers but none have answered the question.

Recently we were told it wasn’t possible to spend income in a wider area on improving parks or other areas. It had to be in the immediate vicinity. Not accurate. It was then shown how other boroughs do it, such as in Southwark:

Since then silence.

This is the same basic issue as Ikea’s poor access and seen in many other areas. A continual pattern is seen of ignoring public spaces again and again and wondering why people are unhealthy, why people drive and why public perception of some areas is poor.

 

 

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John Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

17 thoughts on “Revealed: Just how little Greenwich Council are spending on parks

  • February 3, 2019 at 1:09 pm
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    I don’t think the obesity rate is dependant from existance of parks.
    But it is true that the rate is very high on the borough. Walk in in Asda in charlton and you really have a picture of it…but also look at what is in the trolley…and how full they are.

    I am sorry to say this but there are some people that find convenient to be obese so they have more excuses not to “be able” to work and be on benefits.

    There is lots of mums that rather than cooking a decent meal to their children they stuff them on daily basis with unhealthy pre-made food or fast food.

    And again we should all be tired to pay for this people that not only take adavantage of the system, and cost NHS (therefore tax payers) a fortune to deal with the consequences of it.

    Reply
    • February 3, 2019 at 6:06 pm
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      Actually “a better greenwich”, there is a lot of evidence that shows the link between access to parks and health. The Kings Fund has a summary here: https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/projects/improving-publics-health/access-green-and-open-spaces-and-role-leisure-services

      It includes this titbit:
      “A study in the Netherlands showed that every 10 per cent increase in exposure to green space translated into a reduction of five years in age in terms of expected health problems (Groenewegen et al 2003) with similar benefits found by studies in Canada (Villenveuve et al 2012) and Japan (Takano et al 2002).”

      Reply
      • February 4, 2019 at 1:33 am
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        @Hugh I am big fan and supporter of parks amd green areas. What i was trying to say is that the obesity we have in UK is mainly driven from causes i listed above. And parks won’t fix that.

        Reply
    • February 4, 2019 at 3:28 pm
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      Can you provide some evidence to back up your claims? Specifically, people becoming obese so they do not have to work? Thanks

      Reply
      • February 5, 2019 at 6:33 am
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        @JB you are asking evidence that obsviously I can’t provide via this forum.

        But this article i just found gives further the picture
        https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/05/one-three-people-claiming-sickness-benefits-have-conditions/amp/

        Alternatevely if for example you go in Asda in Charlton in a crowded day and you can easily see what I mean.

        My concern is mainly on children and teenager and the consequence of their parents unhealthy and careless say to feed them.
        For certain adults that do nothing to fight the obesity, health benefits cheque should be cut.

        And just to be clear I am not referring to those that suffer from obesity and try hard to fight it, or try to have a job without playing the system

        Reply
        • February 5, 2019 at 9:16 am
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          If you cannot provide evidence then why claim it? Its easy to make up ‘facts’ based on walking round Asda. The article you post does nothing to back up your claim that those not working ate too much in order not to work, just that a third of those registered have conditions linked to obesity, very different.

          Reply
  • February 3, 2019 at 2:29 pm
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    As we have seen time and again, Greenwich council is all talk and dissembling.

    Reply
  • February 3, 2019 at 6:25 pm
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    From personal experience I have no confidence in Greenwich council

    Reply
    • February 3, 2019 at 11:14 pm
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      Me too no more confidence in Greenwich Council. They have deserted council housing areas in Lower Plumstead that have become filthy with dirty streets, flytipping, abandoned vehicles, parks and gardens that have become derelict and dangerously a health hazard for users dog fouling, crime and the list goes on. I will contest paying my council tax soon if nothing is done to improve areas in and around Purret Road and Rockmount Road.
      Anonymous

      Reply
  • February 6, 2019 at 9:57 pm
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    We pay council tax to Greenwich Council towards the upkeep of our parks, open spaces and other public realms around housing estates etc. So they need to provide these services to its residents and business rate payers in the Borough,

    GLLAB does do some good work but not at the expense of other council services or Departments..

    Money provided by developers to the Council should be spent on whatever project the money was provided for. If our Estates where we live do not receive the money from which the developers provided. Can we expect a reduction in our council tax? As the improvements did not go a head.

    Reply
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