Parks & Open Spaces
The lungs of the Borough
One of the finest characteristics of Enfield is its green areas and the breathing space these provide for a large population â€“ well over 324,000 residents and rising. Enfield has some 124 parks and green spaces â€“ few other boroughs in London can compare with this inheritance. Some parks have historic settings and heritage buildings, others boast sports facilities. Properly sustained the parks will support a superior healthy lifestyle for generations to come, and foster community relations as no other facility can.
Our open spaces are a unique endowment and attraction. In our view they are the foundation of a long term development plan to enhance the quality of life for present residents and provide for proportional growth, assuming supporting infrastructure is developed in parallel.
It is observed that some 85% of residents use the parks at some time, with some groups, especially families, frequent visitors. Our schools rate them as a major educational resource for investigating ecology and the environment.
But use of the parks can achieve yet higher footfall if their facilities and attributes are constructively invested. For instance, taking exercise in the parks has hardly begun to be developed.Â 8 had Green Flag status â€“ a general recognition of their potential value to the community â€“ but this has been abandoned by Enfield Council, apparently for miniscule savings. The council has undertaken to maintain parks to the same standard and we will hold Enfield to this. All our parks can contribute to sustain a quality of life, through the physical and social health of a growing population, but only if a more visionary approach is applied, as advocated by FERAA.
For years, our parks have lacked champions atÂ official level within the Borough. FERAA has often faced the Council’s dismissive attitude that it has no statutory obligation to maintain parks, a statement of fact, but not one that encourages us to believe the authorities are alertÂ to the contribution parks make to a healthy, engaged society.
For years investment has been minimal becauseÂ officials have viewed parks as non-productive assets, indeed a drain on the public purse. Vision has been in short supply; until recently, a succession of indifferent senior managers appointed to the Parks Dept. was largely to blame. Two consultant studies were commissioned in recent time, costing over ÂŁ200,000, supposedly to inform a new parks strategy. The outcome was yet more documentation, no clear vision and not a further penny for the parks. The role for parks still needs clear and binding definition, less rhetoric, and a resolve to carry forward a positive plan. FERAA believes the boroughâ€™s parks deserve much better and is pressing current management for needed improvements.
Enfield parks have so far escaped the pressure to accept building development in the name of revenue-raising, but FERAA has discovered all too often that officials pay scant regard to preserving and enhancing the green endowment. In 2005 an ill-conceived bid to construct a large student township in Trent Country Park was narrowly averted by public pressure in the face of strong support from the Boroughâ€™s planning officials. Once parks have been concreted, there is no turning back. FERAA takes the view that mimicking inner London boroughs, which have progressively eroded their open spaces for urban sprawl, is no way to safeguard the standard of living for Enfieldâ€™s residents.
Users of the 22 larger parks have set up Friends Groups to press for and organize improvements in their respective parks. These groups achieve startling results from seemingly trivial resources, and independent grant sources, and deserve wider public support.
Sadly, their efforts are being offset by Council reductions in servicing; parks are increasingly being used to extract revenue to sustain other local government functions, and the long term value of these vital assets is being further diminished.
Now this principle has been further extended and Enfield Council is working towards making parks as a function self-financing, which means a rapid increase of commercial activities to raises income. But would mining the parks stop then? Residents’ use and enjoyment of the parks must suffer as this policy progresses and visitors find their way barred by lettings that bring nothing to the community.
Friends have been advised that if additional facilities are to be installed in parks the Friends groups will have to find the monies themselves though sponsorship and grants. Friends of parks will have to increase pressure on the Council if parks are not to sink to the very bottom of the fiscal ladder.
FERAA concludes our parks will not achieve their potential to enhance the lives of residents under Council management alone. Short termism and political opportunism will triumph if residents do not forcefully insist on different priorities, so that the next generation may enjoy an environment fit for 21st century humanity.
Supporting your local residents association and park friends group can make a valuable contribution. Look for notice boards in parks and check out on line to make contact with a friends group.