Most Londoners are unaware of how the park and green spaces in London works. This is a major factor in budget shortfalls for some of the smaller green spaces, which can lead to them being sold to developers to be turned into carparks or shopping centres.
In order to maintain the parks through the seasons, the system relies on either council taxes, which are paid by residents, or donations to charities that have a stake in the parks. Some spaces, such as Carshalton Beeches, is run as a nonprofit community project; others, such as the gardens found in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, are restricted to resident access and therefore are paid by levies for those residents. Other spaces are open for public use and protected by the government.
So what does this mean? How can you help save these green spaces?
In short, dialogue, donations, and demonstrations are the ways in which you can help. These three options will encourage a public forum surrounding green spaces. It can also engage residents who may be unhappy with the upkeep of the spaces in their neighborhood.
Dialogue can take on many forms; petitions, letters, emails, or phone calls. What they all have in common, and what they all indicate, is this: a willingness to discuss green spaces and what can be done to keep them open.
For some people, this is easier said than done. The good news is that there are options. Using one of our forms, you can send an email to your local government official asking for the green space issue to be debated during hearings. You can also post a letter to the same officials.
If you’re keen, you can phone or physically show up to open hearings or your local politicians’ offices. We often hold events where we take our members to government offices to do just that. We find that showing up to hearings is taken quite seriously by our officials and can create change.
Donations to nongovernmental organisations and charities who focus specifically on this issue is a brilliant way to make your voice heard. You can also lobby for levies for your borough, which is a small fee on top of council taxes to help pay for maintenance.
Really, any kind of monetary donation to green spaces can help out immensely in keeping the parks open.
Your donation to government charities that oversee green spaces does something else as well: it shows the borough, and the city of London, that people care about keeping green spaces open. It shows that you are willing to do your bit to keep the spaces in your borough open. And, most importantly, it shows a commitment to a healthy lifestyle, not just for you, but for your fellow residents as well.
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Whilst perhaps not the best option in some residents’ mind, the fact is that demonstrations work in London. The power of the people in the streets in a nonviolent manner can cause the media to take notice. In turn, this can lead to in-depth articles about the state of the parks system.
Our organisation has found that these events need not be large. However, they must be effective. That’s why we choose to demonstrate near government buildings. We also build coalitions to lobby peacefully in Parliament and at other government agencies.
By joining our demonstrations, you are lending your voice to a great cause. You will also find that your presence may result in friends and loved ones querying about the state of green spaces. This can lead you to educate them and perhaps gain their support in your efforts.
Join us. Become a member of Save Our Green Spaces and showcase your commitment to keeping London green. The more people we have in our organisation, the stronger our voice will be. The stronger our voice, the more attention we will gain in our fight.