In a press release on 31st July the Council launched its 'Respect Your Park' campaign. The aim is to encourage people not to leave litter in Croydon's parks. Whilst it is important that people don't litter parks, there is more that should be done to make our parks better places for people to keep fit and enjoy nature. Indeed, it could be argued that the Council also needs to respect Croydon's parks, writes Cllr Helen Pollard, shadow spokesman for Culture.
During lockdown it became clear how important parks are to the health and well-being of Croydon residents. It is a shame the Council has neglected parks so much in recent years. This is one of the services the Council provides that everyone can enjoy and benefit from, and yet, in the last 6 years since the Labour administration took control of Croydon Council, there has been a lack of investment.
Instead of investing in upgrading facilities, there has been a series of box-ticking consultations that have cost hundreds of thousands of pounds and been an excuse for inaction. What little work has been carried out has relied on the good will of friends groups or grants from the Conservative government.
The current Council administration has pushed forward with building hundreds of flats in the town centre in a series of new high-rise developments. By their very nature these are homes with no garden and little, if any, outdoor space. The residents of these flats rely on the town's green spaces and yet, most of Croydon's parks, including those in the town centre have suffered from neglect and underinvestment. Since the Council decimated the parks department and reallocated skilled professionals to other areas, there seems to be no role for maintaining the flora and fauna in our parks. Flowerbeds have been ignored and have become a haven for weeds, heritage assets like walled gardens and pavilions have fallen into disrepair, and herbaceous boarders have become overgrown.
It is time this Council woke up to the need to invest in our parks. The time for inaction is over. If we can't have a new shopping centre, let's make Croydon a destination town because of its beautiful parks. We have some amazing green spaces in our borough and now is the time to bring them up to a standard that meets the needs of our expanding population.