It's been revealed today at the Haringey Parks Forum that two parks Finsbury and Downhills have lost the coveted Green Flag status and have been requested to "suspend flying the flag" until improvements have been made.
Winning sites are "mystery shopped" in alternate years and this year not only have two sites failed to meet the requirements but seven others have been given an amber grade showing areas of concern. I don't have information on which parks/green spaces have been identified but I am currently trying to find out which seven they are and will update when I do.
Wow. Unsurprised given the closures for festivals, the state of the playground and the huge amount of rubbish every weekend in summer.
Downhills has been on the slide for a while. The Italian gardens are all but abandoned, the paths are in a state and the litter problem is catastrophic at times. There’s never a sign of staff maintaining the park whenever I’ve been there. Friends groups and TCV can only do so much. Parks without staff will slide into neglect and then people will abandon them. Cuts have done their damage I’ll concede but policy making around staff, hiring out green space and maintenance still lie with the council who need to urgently review their current procedures. Haringey’s green spaces are the jewels in the crown of this borough and we can’t lose them due to poor management.
Do you use the park regularly? Only I'm a dog owner and am in Downhills park every morning come rain or shine and we (all the dog walkers) are all good pals with the head gardner there. He works tirelessly EVERY DAY and has a small team of groundskeepers with him. Yet he is one man in charge not only of Downhills but also Lordship Park. He does everything from cut field grass, to weeding, litter pickup, planting, everything. He often complains that he is not able to do everything required by the council and with all the cuts, that he's expected to handle even more. So I personally think it's a really unfair statement. They keep the italian garden pretty well and there are always lovely families on the children's play areas. Maybe you should think twice before bad-mouthing a park and park-keepers without truly using the park??
Did you read Liz's post? Because she isn't bad mouthing the park keepers, she's complaining about Council policies relating to parks.
Yes, I do use the park regularly and have taken photos there for about 15 years from when my children were tiny, so I am perfectly well aware both of what it used to be like and how it is now. You can be assured that even five years ago those gardens were not full of weeds and were beautifully maintained. Each and every time I go I spend ten minutes clearing litter. Bins are often overflowing. This did not used to be the case. The wilder parts of the park are my real interest, however I am dismayed to find an increase in dumped rubbish there including old scooters.
I think your post about the amount of work one man is expected to do illustrates my point perfectly. He should not be expected to do it all and until relatively recently could have relied upon a team of full time staff to help him daily. The fact that he is incredibly hard-working doesn’t detract from the fact that he has too much to do. You say yourself that he “often complains that he is not able to everything required by the council” indicating that his job specification is unrealistic and clearly requires more full-time staff.
Perhaps you should consider that it is precisely because I do care deeply about a park that has an astonishing diversity of trees, flowers and insect life and that I have visited and photographed regularly in all weathers for many years (one of my photos of Downhills made it into a government publication on the future of parks and another of the cherry trees in blossom onto the BBC website incidentallly) that I am beyond dismayed at the rapid decline caused by council policy. We can’t shut our eyes to this. The fault lies at the door of the council and its policies towards park management.
I've used the park every day walking the dog for 8 years, since I moved here. I agree that the council cuts are causing issues all over the borough in all areas but I wanted to say that in my 8 years coming every day, the park has improved a lot!
Here are some pics from this morning. Multiple gardeners out in force tending to the italian gardens which you described as "all but abandoned" which I disagree with. They are routinely attended to, throughout the seasons, as are other areas of the park. I also strongly disagree that there is "never a sign of staff maintaing the park", as I mentioned before, all us dog walkers say hello to the head gardner every day. EVERY DAY.
I’ve mentioned on other threads before about how much litter there is in Chestnuts Park. It just gets left in the hedgerows and never seems to get picked up. Even when it’s broken glass. In particular around the sides bordering Cornwall Road and Falmer/Clarence Roads. It’s pretty disgusting.
I know the ‘Friends of’ groups do litter picks every so often but it’s more than they can deal with. I don’t know whether the parks teams have just become blind to it or just don’t have the time.
Looks like the Friends of Finsbury Park finally got their wish - see Martin and Clive’s comments here:
With Friends like these...
I'm sure they should have an OfSTiParks for parks, with awards of serious weaknesses, special measures and closure for the worst cases. Obviously the award for Finsbury Park should be closure, but instant academisation has been known to work miracles elsewhere in Haringey.
Goodgym do what we can when we're invited too. Finsbury is too far for us but we volunteered in Downhills this week.