Communities to be given greater say in how parks and countryside services are targeted

Dartmouth Park, Morley
Dartmouth Park, Morley
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Local councillors could be given more powers to decide how parks and countryside resources are targeted in their communities as part of proposals set to be discussed by senior councillors next week.

Included in a report submitted to the council’s executive board on Wednesday March 18, members have the opportunity to support a recommendation that would see decisions regarding resource priorities for horticultural maintenance allocated to Community Committees as well as decisions on where money should be spent on improvements. If agreed by the executive board, the 10 Community Committees in the city would be responsible for these decisions in community parks, cemeteries, recreation grounds, urban woodland, natural areas and local green space.

This move follows a range of other important services to be delegated by the council in recent years to local communities as part of a continued commitment by the authority to move more powers away from the civic hall and into the hands of local decision makers. Those services already under the direction of the committees include street cleansing and environmental action.

If given the green light by the executive board, it is proposed that work around the delegation will begin straight away, with a view that the delegation is ready to be fully implemented from April 2016.

Coun Mark Dobson, Leeds City Council’s executive member for cleaner, safer and stronger communities said:

“Since assuming responsibility for parks and countryside in Leeds, I have really valued the input from councillors from across the city, whose wealth and expertise has been really invaluable to us in tailoring the work that we are undertaking in their communities.

“This is the main reason why it completely makes sense to me to give Community Communities, who know their own patch with local residents better than anyone, the chance to have a greater say in how the parks and countryside service is delivered and how investment funds are allocated in the future. This can only be a positive step forward, and while there is undoubtedly a lot of hard work still to be done, I am looking forward to the delegation being fully completed by April 2016 once approval is hopefully given by the executive board.”

Coun Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:

“We have already seen some very positive results from Community Committees taking a major role in how other important services such as street cleansing are delivered in areas across the city. I welcome the chance therefore for some of our parks and countryside service to also be guided by the choices of local decision makers.

“It’s no secret that we have put a much greater emphasis on how residents and indeed everyone with a stake in our communities can have a real say and influence what the council’s priorities should be and how resources should be allocated. I believe our recently revamped Community Committees offer a renewed opportunity for residents to play their own part in this process, and I would urge them if they are not doing so already, to see how they can get involved.”