Tuesday 7th November 2017
The council needs to save £2.8 million so it can keep all the city’s parks open.
The closure of toilets, removal of unsafe play equipment and charging fitness trainers are just some of proposals Bristol City Council is seriously considering to make the city’s parks cheaper to run.
It is also considering increasing, or introducing, parking charges and charging professional dog walkers to use Bristol’s green spaces, including on the Clifton Downs and at Ashton Court.
The council says it needs to save £2.868 million from its parks budget in order to keep all of Bristol’s parks open and free to everyone. It hopes to make the parks cost neutral – or generate enough income to cover costs – by increasing the price it charges businesses operating in parks and making maintenance cuts including reducing flower planting, mowing and leaf collecting.
The authority is proposing to set up a charitable trust to look after the parks, increase parking charges around parks and closing toilets between 3pm and 7.30am. It also wants to stop the replacement of play equipment if there is deemed to be “suitable provision nearby”.
The budget cut is one of four being proposed in the latest ‘Tough Times, High Hopes’ consultation which was launched on Monday, November 6. The council needs to save £52million from its budget in 2018/19 to plug its £108million deficit by 2023.
While many of the savings will come from backroom efficiencies; parks, money made from cultural events, neighbourhood funding and grants to guardians of children in care are among the frontline services facing the axe. Of the £2.868million required to be saved from the budget, it is currently predicted that £490,000 can be saved by making efficiencies and reducing parks services such as maintenance. This will not result in the closure of any parks.
The authority has already made £963,000 savings through increasing charges in cemeteries and crematoriums, increasing income from cafes and other businesses in parks, reducing subsidies for external bodies, and closing the business operating in Ashton Court. It is now looking to make a further £632,000 in 2018-19 and £1.272million in 2019-20.
In April, the Bristol Post reported that the council was considering more than 80 ideas through which parks could generate income. These included selling bottled water from Blaise bore, building a Go Ape centre at Ashton Court, opening a pet cemetery and increasing toilet charges.