City parks to invite private companies to join in shake-up
GLASGOW’S reputation as the "dear green place" is to be reinforced with a multi-million pound plan to breathe new life into its parks and open spaces.
The council is expected to approve a masterplan for the city’s 74 parks which will allow private companies to provide a range of facilities.
Golf driving ranges, garden centres, cafes and restaurants will all be considered for inclusion in city parks and open spaces.
The review followed an extensive public consultation. More than 3,000 children responded with their views on the parks and open spaces and 670 members of the public and organisations contributed.
Key issues of concern included safety and security, dog fouling, insufficient toilets and the lack of a visual presence of park attendants and rangers.
This year, the council will spend 41 million on maintaining the city’s parks and other outdoor areas such as golf courses and allotments.
However, Robert Booth, the director of land services, said that figure should increase by 9 million next year, with 3 million of the total coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
He added: "We’re asking the council for a substantial investment in the parks.
"The latest poll we did shows the parks are still highly regarded by the public.
"This isn’t a service which is sick, but we can work with others to make the service better before there is any dip in use."
Glasgow’s parks currently attract up to 20 million visitors a year.
The collection is divided into five city parks, such as Pollok and Kelvingrove parks, 12 district and 57 local parks.
However, Mr Booth said he was keen to see the management of the parks overhauled, so that decisions on their future are taken at a local level, with managers empowered to implement change.
Local communities will also be encouraged to put forward their own plans.
Mr Booth admitted that during the review, the possibility of the parks being run by an external organisation was considered. However, the option was dismissed amid fears that private contractors may charge for some of the facilities which are currently free.
Aileen Colleran, the convener of the parks and facilities committee, gave an assurance that none of the city’s parks and open spaces would be sold off to private companies such as housing developers.
She added: "We’re kicking off the debate about our parks and what we want to use our public spaces for.
"My gut reaction is that the people of Glasgow will say it’s not before time."
The council hopes to encourage greater use of the parks as part of its agenda to tackle the city’s poor health record.
Already, the city’s parks have been undergoing a multi-million pound makeover, with the Kibble Palace being restored and glass houses in Tollcross Park resurrected.
Skateboarders have been flocking to a new 350,000 facility at Kelvingrove Park which opened at the weekend and a mountain bike trail which opened earlier this month at Pollok Park.
If accepted, the new strategy will be implemented from March next year.
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