Following a year in which we have valued our local parks more than ever before, we are calling on candidates in next month's elections to demonstrate their support for green spaces by taking the Parks Protector Pledge. We also need you to get involved by discussing the importance of local parks with your candidates and asking them to take the pledge.
The Parks Protector Pledge contains six key points which set out how elected policymakers can work to protect, support and champion green spaces for good both locally and nationally. It is accompanied by a Pledging to Protect manifesto [opens PDF] which provides more detail on each of the six points as well as evidence on the value that green spaces provide.
Local parks have been vital resources for all in our communities over the last year. Places to move, relax, run, play and stay socially connected whilst physically distanced. They are proven to help us feel healthier and happier, to bring communities together and benefit the environment. Yet despite their value, local parks continue to be threatened with imminent loss to development, and once lost a green space is lost forever. Elected policymakers have a vital role to play in stemming the cycle of disappearance and decline; and protecting green spaces for good for current and future generations.
Candidates standing for election to Scottish Parliament and Senedd Cymru - which have devolved responsibility for parks and green spaces - as well as London Assembly and elected Mayoralties in England, are encouraged demonstrate to their electors that they recognise the value of local green spaces and to make a public commitment to the six points of the Parks Protector Pledge.
As electors, we need you to ask your candidates what they will do for your local parks and green spaces if elected. Talk to them about the importance of the spaces, explain what they have meant to you over the last year and share your stories of how you use, enjoy and value them.
Pledges made by candidates will be recorded in our interactive maps so that you can check which of your candidates have taken the Parks Protector Pledge and ask those that haven't yet signed if they will also make the commitment.
First launched 18 months ago during the 2019 UK General Election campaign, the Parks Protector Pledge has already had a significant impact. During that campaign over 250 candidates in more than 210 constituencies agreed to support the six points and 21 were elected to the House of Commons. The number of pledging policymakers in the Houses of Parliament has since grown to 40, covering a full spectrum of political parties.
One of the first candidates to take the pledge in 2019 was Clive Betts - MP for Sheffield South East and Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee - and last month we were delighted to welcome Clive to a volunteer Trustee role on our Board. The Pledging to Protect manifesto also contains a case study into the impact that Ian Byrne - MP for Liverpool West Derby and a fellow early adopter of the pledge - has helped to deliver for his constituents. Ian championed a partnership between Liverpool City Council and Fields in Trust which has led to a commitment by the council to protect all their parks and green spaces in perpetuity. Securing 100 parks, totalling over 1,000 hectares, will make Liverpool the first city in the UK where everyone lives no more than a ten-minute walk from a green space which is protected forever.
Elected representatives have the opportunity to do a lot of good for our green spaces. By ensuring comprehensive access to our most universal of public services is not politically contested and by championing the value of local parks, they can ensure research and analysis feeds into future legislative reform, providing a national and regional impact, as well as supporting the specific green spaces that matter to their constituents locally.
Following the vital role our parks have played over the last year, and will continue to take in our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, now is the time to extend the Parks Protector Pledge and invite candidates standing for Scottish Parliament, Senedd Cymru, London Assembly and elected Mayoralties to sign-up. We will be formally recording pledges from candidates standing for each of these bodies during this 2021 election period. Each candidate who formally records their pledge will receive resources to help them share their commitment during the election campaign and, should they be elected, will then receive support throughout their term of office to help deliver on the commitment they have made and support their constituents to care for local green spaces.
Whilst we will not be formally recording pledges from candidates for local councils or Police and Crime Commissioner posts, we still encourage you to discuss the importance of parks and green spaces with your candidates and ask if they will support the aims set out in the pledge should they be elected.
Our website has lots of resources to support both electors in making the case for local green spaces and for candidates in demonstrating their commitment to them. You can make a difference for your local parks by finding out who your candidates are and tweeting or emailing them to ask if they will show their support for green spaces this election. Because green spaces are good and they do good. Together we can ensure green spaces are protected for good.