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A new Southwark community organisation has been formed – the Southwark Greenspace Forum.
The independent Borough Forum will bring together Southwark Greenspace Friends and User Groups to protect, improve and promote the borough’s greenspaces.
Twenty Southwark groups were represented at the meeting at Peckham’s All Saints Church Hall last Thursday, including Friends Groups for Burgess Park, Dulwich Park, Surrey Docks Farm, Brunswick Park, Belair Park, Peckham Rye Park, Rosendale Allotments, the Camberwell Cemeteries, Nunhead Cemetery, Camberwell Green and more. Apologies and support for the Forum came from Russia Dock Woodlands, Honor Oak Park and Canada Water West RAG.
The meeting was chaired by Emily Montague, Chair of Dulwich Park Friends. Dave Morris, who chairs the Haringey Parks Forum, the London Greenspace Friends Network and the National Federation of Parks and Greenspaces, emphasised how vital greenspace is to London and how important it is to protect funding and quality for these essential, natural places.
Dave shared what in his view helps make a successful Borough Greenspace Forum: good communication and efficient meetings. Sharing skills and support, raising awareness of the value of inner city greenspace, and a collective voice seem the main opportunities. Neighbouring Lewisham’s Forum was set up around three years ago with very positive results.
The Southwark groups discussed the challenges and opportunities they currently face, and why a Southwark Greenspace Forum would be useful.
Friends of Nunhead Cemetery co-ordinator Jeff Hart mentioned the at times over-rigorous restrictions on volunteering, vital to so many greenspace groups. Others mentioned threat from development and reduced funding.
Planning expert Eileen Conn, representing Friends of Goose Green, emphasised potential benefits like collaborating with the Southwark Planning Network and Community Southwark on the New Southwark Plan. Jonnie Beverley from Surrey Docks Farm and other groups mentioned work by Green Links Southwark to raise money from developers via Section 106 agreements and the Community Infrastructure Levy.
An exhibition of etchings of Southwark Park’s trees and nature by local artist Cherish Coupland formed the perfect backdrop for the meeting, which voted unanimously to set up the Southwark Greenspace Forum.
“Our vital greenspaces are constantly under pressure from development, underfunding, corporate events and so on,” said Blanche Cameron, Chair of the Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries. “It’s great to have an independent Forum now to share information and work collectively to protect and enhance what we have for the future.”
“This is why I love coming to these local meetings,” said Dave Morris, “It’s inspiring. They’ve done a great job. The London Greenspace Friends Network is here to help support whenever they need us.”
The next meeting of the Southwark Greenspace Forum is in September. Join to get updates. Membership is free.
For more information:
Southwark Greenspace Forum
Free membership: Contact Emily Montague: firstname.lastname@example.org
Join the Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/southwarkgreenspaceforum/
Follow on twitter: @Swk_Greenspace
London Friends of Greenspaces Network
Free membership: Contact Dave Morris email@example.com
National Federation of Parks and Greenspaces
The Parliamentary Inquiry to address the UK’s greenspace underfunding crisis, just launched:
The Inquiry will 'examine the impact of reduced local authority budgets on these open spaces and consider concerns that their existence is under threat...' ‘The Committee will look at how parks should be supported now and in the future.’ The deadline for responses and evidence is September 30th.
Full details are at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/communities-and-local-government-committee/news-parliament-2015/public-parks-launch-16-17/