A WARNING has been issued that parks across the North-East are under threat from a lack of investment and neglect.
The Heritage Lottery Fund raised its concerns in a report it published called State of UK Public Parks 2014: Renaissance to risk? - a comprehensive review of parks and their management.
The report highlights the work that HLF and local authorities have invested in the previous two decades, but raised concerns about future funding.
According to its research, 63 per cent of parks managers expect a decline in the condition of local parks in the North-East over the next three years as a result of expected maintenance budget cuts of up to 20 per cent.
Ivor Crowther, head of HLF North East, said: “The North-East has a proud tradition of public parks, enjoyed by thousands daily. Highly valued and precious places, they are vital to the physical and emotional well-being of all our local communities.
“Following decades of decline, Lottery funding has revitalised parks across the North-East, but this reports shows that this investment is now at risk. We realise these are financially tough times and that is why we need collaborative action and a fresh approach to halt this threat of decline. Our parks are far too important not to act now.”
One of the parks that has benefited from HLF funding is Stewart Park in Middlesbrough which saw a £4.3m grant used to regenerate the 47-hectare park.
Councillor Tracy Harvey, Middlesbrough Council’s executive member for environment, said: “Public parks are without doubt at the heart of any community and that is no different here in Middlesbrough. We will be looking closely at the HLF report to see what we can learn or contribute in order to maintain the high standards we set for ourselves.”