Kristiana Heapy, chair of Friends of Tottenhall Rec, introduces a manifesto for Enfield’s parks
One of the things I love most about living in Enfield is its abundance of green space. We have wonderful large heritage parks such as Forty Hall and Trent Park, alongside smaller but equally valuable urban green spaces which provide residents with playgrounds, playing fields and community gardens.
Many of Enfield’s parks and green spaces are represented and championed through ‘friends’ groups which are made up of residents who volunteer their time to protect and invest in their local space. But many of these groups are concerned that priority is not being given to investing in the parks that have been havens for tens of thousands of us over the last two difficult years.
So, for the first time, community groups across the borough have come together to produce a manifesto for improving all of Enfield’s green spaces, called Love Our Parks. We are asking all prospective election candidates from all political parties to commit to helping us try to make the manifesto a reality if they are elected in May.
The manifesto has four simple asks; greater accessibility, efficient maintenance and waste management, supporting efforts to protect native plants and wildlife, and increasing community space.
We recognise that this may sound hard in the light of funding cuts over the last decade, but this is why we are asking Enfield Council to work with community groups in a strategic way to generate a bigger impact. Encouraging and supporting civic participation in community life should be at the core of the council’s work.
Parks can become the hubs needed to create healthy, happy, thriving communities. For example, simply supporting voluntary groups through activities such as tree planting can bring isolated people together, thereby reducing loneliness, which is a big contributor to poor mental health outcomes. We also know that access to nature and green space improves people’s wellbeing, but some of the borough’s parks are inaccessible for people using mobility aids such as wheelchairs.
This manifesto is not about asking councillors to do more to us, but is asking councillors to do more with us. There was a lack of meaningful engagement with community groups in the development of the council’s recent strategy for ‘blue and green’ spaces, but the election is an opportunity for councillors standing from all parties to commit to co-production with community groups if they are elected or re-elected.
Local council elections don’t often see the biggest turnouts; in 2018 fewer than two in five Londoners voted. However, council elections are hugely important as they are our chance to vote for the kind of neighbourhood we want to live in.
When lists of prospective candidates are published we will do our best to write to all candidates to invite them to commit to the manifesto. If you agree with our aims, please do ask those who knock on your door asking for your vote if they will commit to the Love Our Parks manifesto. We will be publishing the names of all those candidates who agree to the manifesto on the Enfield Climate Action Forum website.
The following community groups support the manifesto’s call to action: Friends of Aldersbrook Park; Friends of Bush Hill Park; Friends of Conway Park; Friends of Firs Farm; Friends of Pymmes Park; Friends of Tottenhall Recreation Ground and Boundary Playing Fields; Voice of Jubilee Park; Friends of Broomfield Park; Town Park Enfield; Friends of Bury Lodge; Friends of Hazelwood Recreation; Friends of Hilly Fields; Bountagu Big Local.