Avon Wildlife Trust Response to Bristol City Council’s Consultation on Parks and Green Spaces

Thursday 11th January 2018

Avon Wildlife Trust has today responded to Bristol City Council’s public consultation on the future of funding for the city’s parks, and voiced concerns that the proposed budget cuts could lead to habitats and wildlife being harmed - including wildflower-rich hay meadows being lost forever. AWT is encouraging others to respond to the consultation and put forward their views on the planned cost-cutting.

The consultation is underway as Bristol City Council seeks ways to reduce annual spending on parks by £2.8 million by April 2019. One approach the council is putting forward is to increase income from parks including through allowing more commercial events, concessions and advertising to take place within parks. In addition, the council is also consulting (proposal 8 of the consultation) on a plan to decrease the amount of money spent on maintaining the parks, and reduce or in some cases stop grass cutting, pruning shrubs and hedges, collecting fallen leaves, and cutting hay meadows.

AWT understands the stark funding reality Bristol City Council faces and the need to reduce costs for parks. We also recognise how much work the council is doing to explore new and creative approaches to managing these green spaces into the future and we’re keen to continue supporting them to do this. However, AWT is concerned that reducing the current level of maintenance work will result in less diverse habitats for wildlife within our parks – spaces where currently otters, kingfishers, slow worms, and a host of other birds, insects and mammals thrive.

AWT is firmly against the proposal to reduce the number of meadow sites having hay cuts, and fear this will lead to Bristol losing a rare and valuable habitat for wildlife and a beautiful landscape for people to enjoy. Wildflower-rich meadows are now a rare habitat -with the UK having just 3% of the areas of meadow we had in the 1930s, and Bristol City Council has a responsibility to look after and enhance the meadows it owns.

AWT is also calling for more detail about each of the cost cutting proposals for parks maintenance. The current lack of detail makes it difficult to fully assess the impacts for wildlife. Some proposals, including leaving windblown leaves to decompose on the ground, and reducing the frequency of pruning shrubs and hedges can, with careful planning, provide real benefits to the soil, plants, birds and other species. Without better detail, AWT cannot make a fully informed response that ensure our parks can continue to provide shelter and respite for wildlife and people across our city.

If you want to view and respond to Bristol City Council’s parks funding consultation, go to
https://bristol.citizenspace.com/neighbourhoods/parks-and-green-spaces/consultation/intro/