Your correspondents set out the bleak prospects for public parks (Letters, 26 December). To combat austerity, local authorities are increasingly exploiting parks as venues for exclusive, damaging, commercial events – lucrative for the local authority but against the wishes of day-to-day users. The government should impose a statutory duty on councils to provide, monitor, manage and maintain parks and open spaces for their residents, whom the councils should consult in their running of these vital assets.
General secretary, Open Spaces Society
• Good sense supports the letter from David Lambert and 11 others deploring the closing of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Parks for People funding programme. Urban parks are places where air quality is purer, making them suitable for physical exercise both by children and active adults, unlike streets polluted by traffic. Research in recent decades has also discovered that natural surroundings alleviate stress and reduce mental illness in urban populations, a money-saver for the health service. In London, one-third of those using the parks are foreign tourists who enhance national income.
Joined-up political thinking would therefore make upkeep of urban parks a properly financed statutory service, contributing as they do to the national exchequer. And as a result these parks would continue to delight us all.
• It is right that respected senior figures of the Parks Agency draw attention to the ending of Parks for People as a special programme. We have to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for what they have given. Now we move on.
In the end the message should be that the funding of parks, along with other essential services such as health, welfare and education, should not be left to voluntary organisations.
We need parliament to be persuaded by the evidence collected by the communities and local government committee, but bizarrely set aside last year: the maintenance of parks should be given the status of a statutory responsibility of local authorities. Appropriate funding must be provided.
Honorary secretary, Friends of John Leigh Park, Altrincham
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