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Burnley’s parks are creating a national buzz

Release date: 
Tuesday, 11 July, 2017

Burnley’s brilliant parks are in line for another national award.

Burnley Council’s parks team has been nominated for the best service team of the year (parks, grounds and horticultural service) in the APSE Service Awards 2017.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Oxford on 7th September. The APSE awards attracted more than 300 submissions for over 100 organisations across the country.

The council’s innovative approach to managing Burnley’s parks and open areas caught the judges’ eyes.

The Rethinking Burnley’s Parks project takes a more environmentally-friendly approach to managing the borough’s parks and green spaces. The overall aim is to work with nature rather than trying to control it. By doing so the council is encouraging biodiversity and a more environmentally-friendly approach while, at the same time, partnering up with residents and local groups to support the work. All this has also led to reduced costs while retaining high quality and popular parks for all.

The project has been heralded nationally as “best practice” and has won a number of awards and accolades.

Councillor John Harbour, the council’s executive member responsible for parks, said: “People love our parks. They attract thousands of visitors, of all ages, every week and we’re quite rightly very proud of them.

“We need to make sure we look after our parks, not just for our generation but for generations to come, and that means we have to be more imaginative in the way we properly manage them.

“The fact that we’ve been nominated for this award reflects all the hard work and dedication of our volunteers, parks staff and partners in making Burnley’s parks so brilliant and so popular.”

Burnley Council manages 550 hectares of green spaces with an ever decreasing budget. We achieve satisfaction of 85% (according to the most recent Citizens’ Panel survey) and the challenge is to continue to maintain these high levels of satisfaction whilst making further significant savings.

Burnley’s scheme was one of just 11 projects nationwide to secure a grant from the Rethinking Parks Programme, run in partnership between the Big Lottery Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and innovation charity Nesta, to pilot and develop the council’s ideas.

Working closely with Offshoots permaculture project (managed by Newground), our park Friends groups, and greenspaces staff, the council developed and delivered in four areas of innovation.

1. A Volunteer in Parks  programme to recruit, train and manage volunteers working alongside our gardening staff and park friends groups. 

2. Extending meadow management regimes to our parks to allow certain areas to grow “wild” and create natural environment to encourage meadow biodiversity.

We also introduced the world's first urban bee cages, allowing the public to safely see and experience bees which forage in our meadows.

3. Replacing costly annual bedding schemes with herbaceous perennial planting in heritage parks with the aim of providing extended flowering seasons, reduced the demand for labour at peak times and increased biodiversity.

4. Managing areas of park woodlands using council staff and volunteers to thin these woodlands to produce wood fuel and woodchip for playgrounds generating revenue and savings.

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