“The UK’s Urban Parks Could Store As Much Carbon As A Tropical Rainforest”

“London’s Hampstead Heath isn’t just a great place to hang out in during the summer, it’s also a vital tool for preventing global warming.

According to a new study by University College London, the UK’s urban forests such as Hampstead Heath can actually store the same amount of carbon as a tropical rainforest.

The remarkable findings will be vital for city planners who are hoping to create the next generation of sustainable cities.

The study was carried out using airborne LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data collected by the UK Environment Agency, combined with ground-based LiDAR measurements.

Together the University was able to generate a map of the carbon stored in an estimated 85,000 trees in the London Borough of Camden.

Using that data they found that green areas such as Hampstead Heath were able to store up to 178 tonnes of carbon per hectare. This is in comparison to the median value for rainforests which can store up to 190 tonnes of carbon per hectare.

“Urban trees are a vital resource for our cities that people walk past every day. We were able to map the size and shape of every tree in Camden, from forests in large parks to individual trees in back gardens.” Explained lead author of the study, Dr. Phil Wilkes….”

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/the-uks-urban-parks-can-store-as-much-carbon-as-the-amazon-rainforest_uk_5b3213a7e4b0b5e692f12d9c?guccounter=1

Violence in Cranbrook – two attacks, including one in park

“A teenage girl has spoke of the moment a grown mum swore at and attacked her and her 14-year-old friend – while a group of children watch on.

The shocking clash, filmed by an eyewitness and shared publicly to Facebook, happened at a park next to St Martin’s Primary School, Cranbrook, just before 10pm on Friday.

The heavily-built woman and her friends loudly challenge a group of teenagers, snapping selfies against that evening’s striking sunset, in front of what appears to be their own children.

A row breaks out and the woman, wearing a flower-patterned dress, walks toward the group and shoves a 14-year-old girl before appearing to slap Angel Robinson, 17, in her face.

The force of the blow sees her knees buckle, as the park erupts with shouting and swearing.

Angel’s mum Sheena Robinson is fuming over the assault on a daughter who “would not hurt a fly” and weighs only six stone.

Speaking with Devon Live, Angel and her mum spoke of their anger and upset over the shocking incident – filmed by her friend Dayna, also confronted in the footage.

Angel said: “Basically, we were up the park and there was a family drinking vodka and wine and getting really, really drunk. “While we were stood taking selfies one of them started shouting at us.

“Another woman then gobbed off and started on Dayna. Then she whacks the 14-year-old. I went in and then she hits me.”

Angel says that, luckily, the swipe did not leave a mark on her.

For Angel, it proves that teenagers aren’t necessarily the cause of anti-social behaviour in the East Devon town.

“You see all over [Facebook community page] Belonging To Cranbrook complaints about teenagers and that we are the problem.

“But these were grown women. The parents are just as bad as the teenagers.”

Angel and her mum say the family at the table are not known to them, and it had been the first time Angel had encountered them at the park.

She says the incident won’t put her off returning with her mates.

Sheena says Devon & Cornwall Police have been made aware of the footage and are looking into the incident.

It wasn’t the only fight to break out in Cranbrook that evening.

Police were called to an altercation between two men at Great Meadow at 6.45pm.

A row led to one of them being shoved into a bush.

Police are using CCTV to help their enquiries.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/row-over-sunset-selfies-erupts-1711868

“‘Time running out’ for UK parks, government told”

“A coalition of countryside groups and environmentalists are calling on the government to protect the UK’s parks and green spaces which are at “crisis point” following years of swingeing budget cuts.

The group has today put forward a “Charter for Parks”which calls on ministers in England, Wales and Scotland to make it a legal requirement for all parks and green spaces to be maintained and managed to a “good standard.”

It also calls on them “to recognise the right of every citizen to have access within walking distance to a good-quality public green space.”

Dave Morris, Chair of the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces, said “time was running out” for the UK’s parks.

“Budget cuts to staffing and maintenance are leaving them vulnerable to neglect and deterioration, or even sell offs. Many people think local councils are legally responsible for maintaining local parks and open spaces but unfortunately, unlike waste collection, that’s not the case yet.”

He said the charter called on politicians “to take action to ensure these essential and highly-popular public resources are properly funded, managed, maintained, and protected for current and future generations.”

He added: “As the voice of the movement of more than 6,000 local Friends of Parks Groups throughout the UK we recognise the immense contribution that these community volunteers are playing. Now it’s time for government to show an equal commitment to act. The public will not forgive political leaders who let the sun set on the UK’s parks.” ….

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/21/time-running-out-for-uk-parks-government-told

“UK parks save NHS more than £111m a year, study suggests”

And guess what? They are being sold off (as in land appropriated by EDDC for PegasusLife) or kept under the control of developers – as in Cranbrook.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/may/07/uk-parks-save-nhs-111m-year-study-suggests

“Councils forced to sell off parks, buildings and art to fund basic services”

Of course, some councils (naming no names) positively relish selling off the family silver to fund such things as posh new HQ … and note the bit about “transforming services” … a phrase our council adores!

“On Friday, the government-appointed inspector sent in to examine Northamptonshire county council’s books after it went effectively bankrupt is due to publish his report on what went wrong.

While he may identify some failings that can be laid at the council’s door alone, in reality Northamptonshire merely had the dubious honour of last month becoming the first local authority since 1998 to be unable to balance its books. According to last week’s report by the government’s spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, there are around 15 councils that could follow suit in the next three years. The most likely contenders seem to be the Tory-run Surrey, Somerset, Lancashire and Norfolk county councils.

The NAO’s analysis highlights the financial predicament facing councils across England. Government funding has fallen by nearly 50% since 2010. Combined with increased demand for adult and children’s social care and homelessness services, as well as paying higher national insurance contributions for staff, implementing the “national living wage” and the apprenticeship levy, growing numbers of unitary and county councils are relying on their reserves to balance their budgets, the watchdog found.

If current rates of spending continue, the NAO calculates that 10% of social care authorities will have exhausted their reserves within the next three years, while more than 20% will have depleted them within four to five years. A recent survey by the Local Government Information Unit thinktank (LGIU) found that 80% of councils were concerned about their finances. Having already slashed spending on management, administration and non-statutory services, as well as raising council tax, local authorities are desperately trying to find sources of revenue. Most plan to increase or introduce charges for services such as parking, garden waste disposal, burials, planning, home care and meals on wheels. With no financial lifeline from the chancellor, Philip Hammond, in his spring statement on Tuesday, many are also having to sell off their assets to raise cash.

Although councils have long been able to sell school playing fields, swimming pools and leisure centres, they were previously barred from using money from building or land sales to fund frontline services. But since 2016, the government has allowed them to invest the proceeds of assets sold by April 2019 in “transforming” frontline services. This has given councils a greater incentive to flog assets. According to the NAO, in the year to April 2017, £118.5m of such capital receipts were used in this way.

Northamptonshire’s proposed sell-off of its new £53m HQ has been widely reported. But numerous other councils are hoping to sell their historic town halls, from Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire, to Southall in west London and Shotley Bridge in County Durham. Until last month Broxtowe borough council in Nottingham had also planned to sell Beeston town hall to developers, but in the face of fierce local opposition it is now inviting bids from those interested in making alternative use of the building.

“It’s a historic building which has been the civic centre for Beeston since 1936 and represents a lot for the people,” says Matt Turpin, a project and communications manager at Nottingham Unesco City of Literature and the co-founder of a blog about Beeston. “The locals are hugely against it. The council ran a consultation last year and 94% said they were against demolition.” A spokeswoman for the council says shortlisted proposals will be asked to submit business plans before a full council meeting makes a final decision.

With buoyant land values, it is hardly surprising that council-owned parks are vulnerable. Knowsley council in Merseyside is planning to sell 17 parks to developers for an estimated £40m. This will be used to create a charitable trust that will fund all future maintenance and upkeep of its remaining parks. The council will no longer fund parks and green spaces after 2019. After its 2018 budget was approved last week, the plans will now go before the scrutiny committee before a final decision later this year.

Knowsley is far from alone. More than half of cash-strapped councils in the north-west of England are considering selling their parks or finding other organisations to maintain them.

A 2018 parks survey being published on Thursday by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) reveals that 85% of cash-strapped councils expect to cut parks and green spaces funding. Paul O’Brien, APSE’s chief executive, says this is a false economy. “While divesting parks may seem like a quick solution to financial pressures, in the long term we lose a valuable community asset that can generate a real return for local places and local people, he says.

“If we want to create healthy, active communities, develop attractive public realms to bring in new businesses and jobs, and safeguard the environment, then parks are the answer not the problem.”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/mar/14/councils-forced-sell-parks-buildings-art-fund-basic-services

“Since Margaret Thatcher came to power, 10% of the area of Britain has left public ownership. No wonder there’s a housing crisis”

“… in all the proliferating discussion about the rights and wrongs of the history of privatisation in Britain – both from those determined to row back against the neoliberal tide and those convinced that renationalisation is the wrong answer – Britain’s biggest privatisation of all never merits a mention. This is partly because so few people are aware that it has even taken place, and partly because it has never been properly studied. What is this mega-privatisation? The privatisation of land.

Some activists have hinted at it. Last October, for instance, the New Economics Foundation (NEF), a progressive thinktank, called in this newspaper for the government to stop selling public land. But the NEF’s is solely a present-day story, picturing land privatisation as a new phenomenon. It gives no sense of the fact that this has been occurring on a massive scale for fully 39 years, since the day that Margaret Thatcher entered Downing Street. During that period, all types of public land have been targeted, held by local and central government alike. And while disposals have generally been heaviest under Tory and Tory-led administrations, they definitely did not abate under New Labour; indeed the NHS estate, in particular, was ravaged during the Blair years.

All told, around 2 million hectares of public land have been privatised during the past four decades. This amounts to an eye-watering 10% of the entire British land mass, and about half of all the land that was owned by public bodies when Thatcher assumed power. How much is the land that has been privatised in Britain worth? It is impossible to say for sure. But my conservative estimate, explained in my forthcoming book on this historic privatisation, called The New Enclosure, is somewhere in the region of £400bn in today’s prices. This dwarfs the value of all of Britain’s other, better known, and often bitterly contested, privatisations. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/08/biggest-privatisation-land-margaret-thatcher-britain-housing-crisis

Axminster North-South relief road gets £10 million from government plus grant for “Greater Exeter” alternative green spaces

Good news for Axminster? The much-needed relief road that East Devon District Council Tories initially refused to put in the Local Plan (when Bovis was building in the town) is getting a government grant of £10 million. £10 million doesn’t go far on roads these days, so will it be enough? Good news for Crown Estates and Persimmon who are said to own a large parcel of land to the east of Axminster (at least they did in 2015]:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2016/05/27/axminster-persimmon-and-crown-estates-meet-the-neighbours/

On a more worrying note, “Greater Exeter” (which includes East Devon) also gets £3.7 million for “Greater Exeter Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space” which means allowing developers to build on current green spaces if others can be created elsewhere.

The only problem being, the areas to be concreted over seem to get build on rapidly before the “alternative green spaces” are found or designated!

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/678379/MVF_Successful_Bids.xlsx