Tell us why parks in South Ashford matter

Victoria ParkSouth Ashford Community Forum (SACF) are asking for your help in telling a parliamentary committee why parks in South Ashford matter.

South Ashford Community Forum (SACF) is considering submitting evidence to the Inquiry into the Future of Public Parks being undertaken by the Commons Select Committee for Communities and Local Government (CLGC).

CLGC Chair, Clive Betts MP, has said: “Whether it is kicking the ball about with friends, joining a parkrun, walking the dog or just relaxing with a paperback, people value their local parks, but with councils under enormous financial pressures and with no legal obligation to fund and maintain public parks, these precious community resources may be at risk.

“The Committee will be asking what the future is for our open spaces and we want to explore the ways in which parks can be supported and secured for generations to come. We will be keen to find out about innovative and successful approaches to managing and funding parks and what Government can do to support these.

“We know people value their local spaces, and we want to develop a clear picture of the community benefits of public parks as well as who is using them, how often and for what?

Ashford Borough Council (ABC) have not given any indication that they intend to cut or reduce funding to our parks and open spaces. In ABC’s Corporate Plan they propose to “Maximise the value of our key green sites” and have already published the Draft Masterplan for Victoria Park and Watercress Fields, showing their commitment to them. However, as for all local authorities, their finances will continue to come under pressure as central government funding comes to an end.

Parks and open spaces in the unparished area of South Ashford include Victoria Park, Watercress Fields, Cuckoo Wood, Noakes Meadow, Cryol Road and St. Annes Road open spaces, local play parks and the many open spaces on our housing estates (to which reduced mowing is already a concern for many residents).

SACF would like to know:

  • which of our parks and open spaces you use, how often you use them and what for.
  • how parks contribute to you and your family’s health and wellbeing.
  • what you think of use of parks by organisations, whether non-profit or commercial – should they be charged for that use
  • if insufficient funds were available from Ashford Borough Council, how funds could be raised in future for improvement and maintenance of parks and open spaces
  • whether you would be willing to get involved in running your local park or open space, either by helping to manage it or volunteering your time to help maintain it.

You can add your comments to the copy of this article on the South Ashford website,

We will be discussing the Inquiry at the Forum meeting on 21 September and would like to prepare a draft submission before the meeting, so we would like your comments by 14th September.

Chris Dixon, of Ashford Borough Council will also be updating us on the Victoria Park and Watercress Field Masterplan at the meeting , so put it in your diary now.

For more information on the Inquiry follow these links:

If you would like to submit evidence directly to the Committee:


  1. Sue Jennings

    As residents of Ashford, we and ABC have a DUTY to protect all of our green spaces in the town for the sake of our children and their children. ABC have already encroached on our green space by building a private member’s club on Victoria Park. With enormous numbers of flats and new housing planned for the town, green spaces will be of even greater importance. If funds are short, they should, perhaps, curtail their ‘property development’ vanity projects, and protect our green spaces and not sacrifice them for short term profit.

    1. Bob Shrubb (Post author)

      This is the problem, ABC, and other local authorities, have to protect designated green spaces against development, but they do not have a statutory duty to maintain parks and open spaces.
      We want to provide the evidence to the committee that might bring about a strategy to ensure they are maintained.
      ABC do not fund the development, it is funded by private developers. The developers will make contributions towards the strategic parks.

      1. Sue Jennings

        Thank you for your reply. Are you saying that the parks and playing fields in Ashford are not designated green spaces or just that if they want to, ABC can leave them unmowed and uncared for? I expect ABC to protect and maintain our parks and open spaces. It is the presence of these areas that make town life bearable, and as rate payers, we pay for it. Have ABC intimated that there are insufficient funds for this purpose? Is the ‘Future of Public Parks inquiry’ an underhand government attempt to legitimise allowing councils to sell off green spaces for building? Lots of questions!

        You say that ABC does not fund development? Am I incorrect in believing that ABC are wanting to build a private bowls club and associated parking on the playing field bordered by Jemmett Road, Christchurch Road, Musgrove and Williams Road, as I have heard that they want the existing bowls club to relinquish their site in the town centre? I believe ABC will not allow the club to replace their facilities on the existing site, which are in poor repair. No doubt the town centre land has a much higher monetary value and they have their own reasons for wanting it.

        Sorry if the above sounds cynical, but there we are.

  2. Bob Shrubb (Post author)

    ABC, and other local authorities, are not obliged carry out maintenance on parks and open spaces. If you read the whole post, we have said that ABC have not indicated any intention to discontinue maintenance, in fact they have made a commitment to “Maximise the value of our key green sites” and comments made indicate that they hope that the maintenance will improve when it is carried out directly by the Council after the current contract expires.

    Commons select committees are cross party groups that are largely concerned with examining the work of government departments. This committee will be asking “what the future is for our open spaces and they want to explore the ways in which parks can be supported and secured for generations to come”.

    This discussion is detracting from the purpose of the post. If we do not get the input we have asked for we will not be in a position to submit evidence and assist this opportunity to secure public parks for the future.

  3. Sue Jennings

    I’m sorry you feel that this discussion is a distraction. That is not my intention. I feel it is important for residents to be aware that they cannot take our parks and playing fields for granted, as in these fiscally challenging times, there is a big temptation for councils to try to cash in on them. I hope that this will encourage residents to respond to your request.


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