This week we welcome Rishi Sunak MP to our guest blog. As Minister for Local Government, Rishi is responsible for parks and green spaces – find out more about Rishi on the GOV.UK website.
Parks breathe life into our towns and cities, providing important opportunities for people to get together, exercise or get away from the pressures of modern life. Recent research from the charity Fields in Trust shows that living close to and visiting parks and green spaces can increase people’s wellbeing and improve their health.
Back in my home constituency of Richmond I’m fortunate to have access to two of Britain’s most beautiful national parks – the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. But in London my family and I rely on the network of fantastic parks and green spaces to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. My two young daughters particularly enjoy our local park – a valued space that allows the family to relax and spend quality time together. We certainly feel very lucky to be in one of the greenest cities in the world.
That’s why the work of London Parks and Gardens Trust is so important. Its efforts to increase awareness and appreciation of London’s parks reflect the importance of green spaces to daily life in our capital city.
Their flagship event Open Garden Squares Weekend in June provides public access to over 200 gardens, many of which are normally private. It’s a great initiative that gives Londoners the opportunity to spend time in some of the city’s most special green spaces. Our local Bramham Gardens will be included and I would encourage all Londoners to see which gardens in their local area will be open.
As Parks and Green Spaces Minister I am pleased to say that the government shares this enthusiasm in making sure England’s green spaces are supported and more people are able to enjoy the great outdoors. That is why the government has set up and funded a new Parks Action Group to address issues facing England’s public parks. I relish the opportunity to attend their next meeting and encourage their efforts to grow support for public parks and other green spaces across England.
Our £1 million ‘pocket parks’ fund has also helped transform neglected and derelict spaces and seen the creation of over 80 new green spaces for communities to enjoy in urban areas across the country. And the decision to extend the Green Flag Award license by a further five years in September 2017 means the people behind Britain’s best parks and green spaces continue to be recognised and awarded for their tireless dedication.
Most recently, we announced plans for a new Northern Forest as part of our 25 Year Environment Plan. The ambition and forward-thinking behind this initiative is further evidence of our long-term commitment to building a greener country.
We will continue to promote the importance and value of our parks and we encourage organisations like London Parks and Gardens Trust in their efforts to improve access and awareness of London’s great green spaces.
Their commitment helps to allow us to continue enjoying and valuing the benefits parks and green spaces bring to public life.