I was delighted to be elected as the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Parks and Green Spaces today.
Parks and green spaces are vital to those in Manchester – urban areas with little green space available otherwise means that residents dependent on these spaces for fresh air, a space to play, explore, and beat the heat in the summer months.
It’s an honour to have some of the most important parks in my constituency as well, with Alexandra Park being one of Britain’s first municipal parks and public meetings addressed by key historical figures such as Keir Hardie and Emmeline Pankhurst. The Park also held the ‘Rock Against Racism’ in 1978, noted as the day it ‘became cool to be anti-racist’.
Beyond Alexandra Park, the constituency is home to many other parks and green spaces, with dozens just outside the boundary but a place constituents depend on year around. Whether it is park runs, litter picks, or a picnic with friends and family, we all gained a new appreciation for the outdoors because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Austerity since 2010 has greatly impacted our parks – with Manchester City Council alone being forced to make £420 million of savings since then. However, Manchester continues to value parks and set ambitious plans. This includes Greater Manchester’s Green Space Fund, which launched last year.
We need a national dedication to parks, like we have seen in Manchester. This is why I am looking forward to chairing the group and having the support of Keep Britain Tidy, a charity that works to inspire, educate and enable everyone in this country to value the environment on their doorstep.