Our Vision

“Representing professionals working in public parks and green spaces”

There are 398 principal (unitary, upper and second tier) councils in the UK – 24 county councils, 181 district councils, 36 metropolitan councils, and 124 unitary councils. There are around 11,000 local councils in the UK, from town councils to parish councils. These councils, along with a number of trusts, charities and other organisations, manage between them 27,000 public parks across the country and employ a significant number of professionals to manage and maintain them within such service areas including streetcare, waste services, leisure services, community services, neighbourhood services and cultural services. It is now a rarity to find an authority that retains its distinct ‘parks service’ as it has most likely to have been absorbed into a wider departmental structure. Yet public perception is very different, and many still perceive that ‘parks departments’ still exist.

“Can I speak to someone in the park department please?”

However, over the last 20+ years, there has been a significant reduction in the number of professionals dedicated to the management of parks and green spaces with headlines such as ‘last of a dying breed’ and media coverage not only in the trade press but also in mainstream media (The Guardian and the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, BBC Radio). Like many public services, austerity has hit us hard and soft services such as parks have and continue to be hit severely with parks and green spaces management professionals often becoming marginalized and in many authorities, redundancies have occurred with significant posts lost.

Up to this period of austerity, a number of organisations had represented parks and green spaces professionals including:

  • ILAM (Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management) which became ISPAL and ultimately CIMSPA, neither of the latter organisations representing parks professionals; ILAM had a dedicated parks team with officers advocating policy and recommendations for the wider management of parks.
  • The Urban Parks Forum, becoming GreenSpace which folded a number of years ago
  • CABE Space, which was a government funded quango responsible for championing urban parks and professionals, but was disbanded and became part of the Design Council, no longer representing parks professionals.

Since the disappearance of these reputable organisations, no single body has represented the body of individuals who continue to manage our urban parks and green spaces and the sector has become fragmented. As part of the recent public inquiry into public parks in 2017, one of the key issues raised was the lack of a professional body to represent parks and green spaces management professionals. With the end of the last period of austerity and continued importance given to public parks, it is now an important period to look at representing those still managing parks and green spaces as well as those that have inherited the management of these, with little or no sector support. This has recently become increasingly significant with the current Covid-19 pandemic where parks and green spaces have had greater coverage and awareness raised of their wider importance to our communities.

The Current Position (2021)

With no single professional body representation and the gap in the sector, a number of other bodies do exist but have fragmented links to parks practitioners and the sector, and they have carried the flag for parks.  This has meant that decision makers and policy makers have had inconsistent links to the sector that actually delivers, and has done for decades. The Parks Management Association, through an independent board of practitioners, can strengthen that link not only by strongly representing the sector but most importantly by acting as a sound board for ideas and policy implementation as well as proposing solutions and share best practice that can cross fertilise the work amongst the organisation.

The Parks Management Association will work and support all the Regional Parks Forums and organisations such as the Landscape Institute, APSE, Parks Action Group, The Parks Alliance, The Gardens Trust, The National Trust, Heritage Fund, Chief Leisure Officers Association, Chartered Institute of Horticulture, Fields in Trust, Keep Britain Tidy, CPRE and forge stronger links with Scotland, Wales and any other national and international organisations that have in common, the passion and values that underpins our work in valuing our parks and open spaces.

So what are the next steps?

On 28th May, 2020, the interim board met for the first time and was made up of representatives from City of Cardiff, LB Hounslow, LB Ealing, Watford Borough Council, Bury Council, Wirral Council, Manchester City Council, Sheffield City Council, Arun and Worthing District Councils, Urban Green Newcastle, North Tyneside Council, Rugby Borough Council, Nottingham City Council, Salford City Council, Birmingham City Council, Walsall Council, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, Green Estate Sheffield, and Community First Partnership. This board aims to meet 6 times a year.

The next stage will be to begin to work with the regional forums and all the relevant organisations that can help us to strengthen this single voice  for the sector – the establishment of a Parks Collective. We have already contacted the Parks Leaders Forum in New Zealand who have been set up for over 8 years. Their advice was to establish the ‘critical mass’ and develop the ‘network’. This will include individuals who work in the parks sector (and it does not matter at what level) to the organisations who have similar interests in our work. This is crucial and will strengthen our voice and role within the sector. This will be the main focus of our work in the next few months. We will keep you updated.

The meeting on the 10th June, 2020 discussed the following:

  • Adopt the Terms of Reference – ADOPTED
  • Agree a statement on the value of parks to be released – AGREED
  • Decide on the structure of the interim board – AGREED
  • Discuss who we need to collaborate with as a priority – AGREED

Paul Rabbitts

Head of Parks and Open Spaces, Southend on Sea City Council, Chairperson

Name:Paul Rabbitts

Current Job Title:Head of Parks and Open Spaces, Southend on Sea City Council, Chairperson

Organisation:Southend on Sea City Council

Years in Public Parks:31

Years in the Sector:33

Qualifications:BA Honours (Geography); Masters in Landscape Architecture

Post nominals:FRSA

Memberships:Landscape Institute, CLOA, Royal Society of Arts, Royal Historical Society, Green Flag and International Green Flag Judge, Chair of the Parks Management Association

Ian Baggott

Managing Director, Community First Partnership, Vice chairperson

Name:Ian Baggott

Current Job Title:Managing Director, Community First Partnership, Vice chairperson

Organisation:Community First Partnership

Years in Public Parks:29

Years in the Sector:36

Qualifications:RFS Cert Arb; BSc Hons, MSc

Memberships:Landscape Institute, Royal Society of Arts, Midlands Parks Forum

Eddie Curry

Head of Public Realm, Nottingham City Council, Vice Chairperson

Name:Eddie Curry

Current Job Title:Head of Public Realm, Nottingham City Council, Vice Chairperson

Organisation:Nottingham City Council

Years in Public Parks:25

Years in the Sector:33

Qualifications:OND Landscape Practice HND Horticulture (Amenity and Landscape Provision and Management) MBA Strategic Management

Memberships:Landscape Institute, International and National Green Flag Judge, Chair of the Core Cities Parks and Green Space Group

Stefania Horne

Superintendent of Hampstead Heath and North London Open Spaces, Vice Chairperson

Name:Stefania Horne

Current Job Title:Superintendent of Hampstead Heath and North London Open Spaces, Vice Chairperson

Organisation:City of London

Years in Public Parks:21

Years in the Sector:27

Qualifications:Italian Doctoral degree and MSc (Bangor)

Memberships:Executive Member of CLOA

Chris Worman MBE

Parks and Green Space Manager, South Derbyshire District Council, Vice Chairperson

Name:Chris Worman MBE

Current Job Title:Parks and Green Space Manager, South Derbyshire District Council, Vice Chairperson

Organisation:South Derbyshire District Council

Years in Public Parks:38

Years in the Sector:38

Qualifications:Post Graduate Cert Management Studies

Memberships:National and International Green Flag Judge, Parks Advisory Group

Philippa Reece

Parks and Foreshore Manager, Adur and Worthing Council, Vice Chairperson

Name:Philippa Reece

Current Job Title:Parks and Foreshore Manager, Adur and Worthing Council, Vice Chairperson

Organisation:Adur and Worthing Councils

Years in Public Parks:15

Years in the Sector:21

Qualifications:BA (Honours), Environmental Management

Memberships:National and International Green Flag Judge

Jane Conway

Operations Manager - Parks Service, Luton Borough Council, Vice Chairperson

Name:Jane Conway

Current Job Title:Operations Manager - Parks Service, Luton Borough Council, Vice Chairperson

Organisation:Luton Borough Council

Years in Public Parks:38

Years in the Sector:38

Qualifications:DMS, Institute of Management

Memberships:National and International Green Flag Judge

Mike Harris

Outdoor Leisure Manager, Tonbridge and Malling, Leisure Services (Outdoors)

Name:Mike Harris

Current Job Title:Outdoor Leisure Manager, Tonbridge and Malling, Leisure Services (Outdoors)

Organisation:Tonbridge and Malling Council

Years in Public Parks:25

Years in the Sector:25

Qualifications:BSc Adventure Recreation

Michael Rowland

Head of Park Operations, The Royal Parks

Name:Michael Rowland

Current Job Title:Head of Park Operations, The Royal Parks

Organisation:The Royal Parks

Years in Public Parks:18

Years in the Sector:27

Qualifications:BSC Hons Biology Post Grad Diploma in Conservation Advanced Diploma in Management

Memberships:National Green Flag Judge

Andy Lee

Parks Manager, Rotherham Council

Name:Andy Lee

Current Job Title:Parks Manager, Rotherham Council

Organisation:Rotherham MBC

David Lambert

Director, The Parks Agency

Name:David Lambert

Current Job Title:Director, The Parks Agency

Organisation:The Parks Agency

Years in Public Parks:30

Years in the Sector:36

Qualifications:MA

Memberships:Royal Society of Arts, Gardens Trust

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Jonathan Maidment

Head of Parks and Harbour Authority, City of Cardiff

Name:Jonathan Maidment

Current Job Title:Head of Parks and Harbour Authority, City of Cardiff

Organisation:City of Cardiff

Years in Public Parks:34

Years in the Sector:36

Qualifications:M.Hort, PG Cert (Management Studies) PG Cert (Sustainable Leadership)

Memberships:Chair of GreenSpace Wales

Darren Share MBE

Assistant Director, Streetscene, Birmingham City Council

Name:Darren Share MBE

Current Job Title:Assistant Director, Streetscene, Birmingham City Council

Organisation:Birmingham City Council

Years in Public Parks:34

Years in the Sector:37

Qualifications:MBA, Cert Arb (theory) WAMITAB Level 4

Memberships:National Britain In Bloom Judge since 2014 and National Chair; National In Bloom Federation and RHS Community Outreach Advisory Group. Trustee for the Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Liz Stuffins

Public Health Development Manager, Walsall Council

Name:Liz Stuffins

Current Job Title:Public Health Development Manager, Walsall Council

Organisation:Walsall Council

Years in Public Parks:34

Years in the Sector:36

Qualifications:BSc (Hons) MSc

Memberships:Landscape Institute, Chair of the Midlands Parks Forum

Annie Surtees

Parks and Streetscene Manager, Salford City Council

Name:Annie Surtees

Current Job Title:Parks and Streetscene Manager, Salford City Council

Organisation:Salford City Council

Years in Public Parks:28

Years in the Sector:33

Qualifications:BSc(Hons), MSc

Memberships:National Green Flag Judge

Stuart Turner

Service Manager Green & Open Spaces, Sheffield City Council

Name:Stuart Turner

Current Job Title:Service Manager Green & Open Spaces, Sheffield City Council

Organisation:Sheffield City Council

Years in Public Parks:19

Years in the Sector:27

Qualifications:BSc (Hons), MSc, MBA Certificate in Ecology & Conservation

Memberships:National Green Flag Judge

Kylie Ward

Parks Lead, Manchester City Council

Name:Kylie Ward

Current Job Title:Parks Lead, Manchester City Council

Organisation:Manchester City Council

Years in Public Parks:22

Years in the Sector:22

Qualifications:BA (Hons) Business Management and Sport

Chris Welsh

Parks Manager, LB Ealing

Name:Chris Welsh

Current Job Title:Parks Manager, LB Ealing

Organisation:LB Ealing

Years in Public Parks:17

Years in the Sector:25

Qualifications:BLA

Memberships:London Benchmarking Group

Laurence Gale

Editor of TurfPro

Name:Laurence Gale

Current Job Title:Editor of TurfPro

Organisation:TurfPro

James Jones-McFarland

Parks Manager, Arun Council

Name:James Jones-McFarland

Current Job Title:Parks Manager, Arun Council

Organisation:Arun Council

Yvonne Kelleher

Parks Service Manager, Richmond and Wandsworth Councils

Name:Yvonne Kelleher

Current Job Title:Parks Service Manager, Richmond and Wandsworth Councils

Organisation:Richmond and Wandsworth Councils

Paul O'Brien

Chief Executive APSE

Name:Paul O'Brien

Current Job Title:Chief Executive APSE

Organisation:APSE

Stephen Daye

Parks and Cemeteries Officer, Ards and North Down District Council

Name:Stephen Daye

Current Job Title:Parks and Cemeteries Officer, Ards and North Down District Council

Organisation:Ards and North Down District Council, Northern Ireland

Lucy Prisk

Green Flag Co-ordinator, Green Flag Wales

Name:Lucy Prisk

Current Job Title:Green Flag Co-ordinator, Green Flag Wales

Organisation:Green Flag Wales

Bernard Sheridan

Director - Bernard Sheridan Consultancy

Name:Bernard Sheridan

Current Job Title:Director - Bernard Sheridan Consultancy

Organisation:Bernard Sheridan Consultancy / South Derbyshire Council

Years in the Sector:33

Qualifications:Chartered Horticulturist; Master of Horticulture (RHS); National Diploma in the Science and Practice of Sportsground Management (IOG)

Memberships:Chartered Institute of Horticulture

Matt Kelly

Service Manager - Parks and Streetscene, Wigan Council

Name:Matt Kelly

Current Job Title:Service Manager - Parks and Streetscene, Wigan Council

Organisation:Wigan Council

Memberships:Green Flag Judge, the former Chair of the Lancashire Parks group and a former Member of the Greenspace North West steering group.

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David Winslow

Community Parks Officer, Derby City Council

Name:David Winslow

Current Job Title:Community Parks Officer, Derby City Council

Organisation:Derby City Council

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Simon O'Dell, Landscape Futures CIC

Director

Name:Simon O'Dell, Landscape Futures CIC

Current Job Title:Director

Organisation:Landscape Futures CIC

Steven Skinner, St Austell Town Council

Operations Manager

Name:Steven Skinner, St Austell Town Council

Current Job Title:Operations Manager

Organisation:St Austell Town Council