Bristol parks could receive £700k boost after Tories suggest changes to council budget

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The cash would come from a levy paid by property developers

Parks in Bristol could receive a £700,000 boost after Conservatives suggested changes to the council’s annual budget.

The cash would come from a levy paid by property developers and would partly be invested in refurbishing children’s play areas.

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Each February councillors have to thrash out a plan of how much to spend on public services, for the following financial year beginning in April. Opposition parties can try to amend the budget, and suggest spending more in certain areas, such as parks and children’s play areas.

During a full council meeting, Conservative councillors won support for their amendment to spend £700,000 raised from the strategic community infrastructure levy (CIL). But the budget has not yet been passed, and is due for a second vote on February 29.

Conservative Councillor John Goulandris said: “Parks give a wide range of benefits to the whole community, providing opportunities for physical activity as well as improving mental health and wellbeing. The concept of bringing the countryside into urban living goes back to Roman times when civic leaders recognised the importance of green spaces to soften the built environment.

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“Here in Bristol, our forefathers established many beautiful parks and green spaces. It’s a great legacy but sadly in recent years investment in our parks has reduced. Our parks and children’s play areas have been left to languish by this administration. This capital amendment is an opportunity to reverse this trend and bring back some much-needed investment.”

Liberal Democrats supported the amendment, while Labour councillors abstained and Greens voted against it. The Green party failed to suggest any amendments to the budget, claiming that few were ever accepted. They also said the £700,000 would be better spent on guiding a major regeneration project in St Judes.

Redcatch Park in KnowleRedcatch Park in Knowle
Redcatch Park in Knowle | Mark Taylor

Green Cllr Martin Fodor said: “This raid on the budget needed for the Frome Gateway regeneration is unwise and inadvisable. This will reduce the funding available to commission the Frome Gateway framework. The local community is very sceptical of the council, they don’t trust us to look after the area, and they see ‘regeneration’ as a euphemism for gentrification.”

Labour councillors meanwhile said the council was already investing £6 million into improving parks. Huge changes to Castle Park are also planned, partly to make the area safer at night.

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Cllr Ellie King, cabinet member for public health and communities, said: “Diverting money away from this area jeopardises the trust built with those engaged communities and our ability to deliver on our priorities. Under the Labour administration, the council is already spending significant sums of money on parks and play parks.

“We’ve currently allocated around £6 million for improving our parks, including Redcatch, Hengrove, Oldbury Court, Argyle Road, Victoria Park, St Agnes and Rawnsley, alongside nine refurbished play parks on council estates. Strategic CIL is a finite resource that can only be used in areas of growth and regeneration, and must also be used for other vital projects such as road improvements, green infrastructure and active travel facilities.”

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