News: Britains parks considered unsafe

As England’s eight million schoolchildren start their summer holidays, a new survey shows that one in three children feel unsafe using parks some or all of the time.

Gangs, bullies and drunken kids were among the reasons given by children for feeling unsafe, said the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.

Three quarters of children say they would feel safer if parks were properly staffed with park keepers.

CABE is calling for every significant park to have dedicated staff on site in daylight hours. Currently, this is true of only a quarter of English parks.

CABE's latest survey of park managers shows that on-site staff can cut anti-social behaviour. Maldon Council in Essex reports that vandalism in its parks has halved over the last two years through this.

After many decades of neglect, there has recently been huge increases in capital investment in England’s parks and public spaces. The Big Lottery Fund has just announced a new £124m fund specifically for local areas to spend on play schemes. CABE believes that this investment will be wasted without maintenance, which means proper staffing.

Last week the government announced a record 423 Green Flag Awards - the national benchmark for quality parks and green spaces - had been awarded to sites across the country.

Winners of the awards are judged to be welcoming, safe and well maintained with the strong involvement of the local community. This year, the 10th anniversary of the scheme, has seen a 32% rise in the number of winners. "Further evidence of the renaissance of our parks and green spaces highlighted by the National Audit Office earlier this year," said the Department for Communities and Local Government on Friday.

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