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Bristol and Bath receive funding to set up a Parks Foundation

Bristol City Council and Bath & North East Somerset Council are joining forces to develop a Parks Foundation to support public parks across the two cities. 

The two councils have jointly been awarded almost £200,000 to try and develop investment and engagement opportunities to sustain and enhance parks across both Bristol and Bath.

The money has been provided by innovation foundation Nesta, as part of their Rethinking Parks programme.

The project will build on, and learn from, the work of the Bournemouth Parks Foundation - the pioneering Foundation that was supported by Rethinking Parks in 2014.

Some of the aims of the foundation include:

  • Allow residents, visitors, community organisations and local businesses to support improvements and activities in parks;
  • Develop sustainable relationships between business, parks and their communities; 
  • Enable public donations for specific projects both in individual parks and across the cities;
  • Use innovative ideas to seek unrestricted public donations, including legacies;
  • Work with park groups and others to apply for grants;
  • Encourage and facilitate more volunteering in parks;

Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor with responsibility for parks, said: “We are really delighted that Nesta have approved our joint bid and are really excited about the potential to create an independent charitable body that can help add value to support parks across the two cities of Bristol and Bath. 

“This project is still at a very early stage, but we hope that working with a range of partners will really benefit all our publicly owned parks and green spaces that play a vital role in the city’s health and wellbeing.

“We are working hard to find sustainable solutions for the future of the parks service, and we want to continue to ensure everyone in Bristol has access to good quality, attractive and enjoyable parks and green spaces throughout the city.”

A parks foundation is a non-profit organisation that supports a specific park or a group of parks, with time, expertise and privately-raised funds. A foundation can raise money and support volunteering, but does not take the ownership and maintenance of the parks away from the local authority.

Councillor Bob Goodman, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods & Development, said: “We are extremely proud of our public parks and the valuable role they play in improving the lives of our residents. We also appreciate how they validate the cultural experience of visiting our beautiful neighbouring areas.

“Our award will focus on improving and enhancing these benefits with opportunities to be available for local champions to help unlock access to funding by volunteering their knowledge and skills in their green spaces.

“We are extremely pleased to working in partnership with Bristol and Bournemouth on this valuable project and we are sure that our collaborative working can take us forward more quickly than would otherwise be the case.”

Partners in the project include; The Natural History Consortium, Bristol Parks Forum, Bournemouth Parks Foundation, Quartet Community Foundation and Bristol Green Capital Partnership.

Rob Acton Campbell, Secretary of the Bristol Parks Forum, welcomed the funding. He said: “This is a great opportunity to increase community involvement in parks and to raise funds through sources not available to the two councils. We look forward to being a part of this project.”

As part of the project Bristol City Council plans to appoint a volunteer coordinator to take forward ambitions for more public engagement in parks and green space.