Groups who use Merton’s parks are being welcomed to give their views on the proposed changes to the way the borough’s parks, cemeteries and other green spaces are maintained.
Friends of the parks groups are meeting with Councillor Andrew Judge (Merton Council’s cabinet member for environmental sustainability and regeneration) and Chris Lee (director of environment and regeneration) on Monday 2 March. Although the way community groups, friends groups and volunteers use the parks and green spaces to benefit local communities will not be affected, the council wants to update these groups about the proposed changes and the stages involved.
With £32 million of savings having to be made over the next four years due to a reduction in the council’s funding from central government, the council wants to protect weekly waste collections and keep council tax low so it is looking at how it can continue to provide quality refuse and recycling collections, street cleaning, parks and other grounds maintenance services that give Merton’s taxpayers value for money. After a lot of consideration, the council is proposing to work with neighbouring councils to change the way in which it deliver these services. By working together it is hoped that, as a result of economies of scale, significant savings will be generated.
As part of the award-winning South London Waste Partnership (made up of Merton, Sutton, Kingston and Croydon Councils), the four neighbouring boroughs are looking at working together to commission specialist environmental services companies to take care of the borough’s waste collections, street cleansing and parks maintenance from April 2017. The SLWP will not be delivering the services. The partnership’s expertise lies in procuring good value contracts with companies which are specialists in their fields so they will be looking for a company who is specialist in horticulture and grounds maintenance and a company who is specialist in street cleansing and waste collection services. Merton Council will continue to retain the management of the borough’s parks.
Merton Council’s cabinet member for environmental sustainability and regeneration, Councillor Andrew Judge, said: “Our local friends of the parks groups do fantastic work with the council to keep Merton’s green spaces looking clean and tidy as well as helping to make our parks great places to visit. There will be no changes at all to how these groups use our parks and I want to make sure that we continue the good work we do together.”
Notes to editor:
- It is proposed that the four boroughs through the SLWP work together to secure contracts for parks maintenance and for waste collections and street cleansing to start in April 2017.
- The ownership and future use of all of the borough’s open spaces would stay with the council. Existing planning protection would remain and the council would only be asking the new provider to undertake the day to day maintenance and management of the spaces.
- There are several councils around the country and across London that have done this successfully but usually alone. Two of Merton’s partner boroughs (Croydon and Kingston) already work with external providers, one who provides their waste collections and street cleansing services and another who provides their parks and grounds maintenance service. What is different in what’s being proposed now is the partnership approach to doing this across four councils to get the best deal for each council and the taxpayer.
- Visit the council’s FAQs webpage for more information.