Volunteers help out as Blackpool parks budget is slashed

Volunteers planting trees at Gateside Park in Blackpool
Volunteers planting trees at Gateside Park in Blackpool
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Hundreds of thousands of pounds has been cut from Blackpool's parks budget  over the last four years, new figures have revealed.

Since 2014/15 spending on parks by Blackpool Council has been reduced by £444,000, according to a report to the tourism, economy and communities scrutiny committee.

Volunteers have stepped in to help maintain the town's open spaces with 15 friends groups now operating, while external funding has also helped filled the gap.

Blackpool Better Start, a Lottery-funded project focusing on supporting families with young children in deprived areas, has ploughed £795,000 into improving facilities at parks in the last three years and developed a park ranger service.

The report says: "Parks have managed their budget by decreasing staff numbers and making efficiencies in other areas of spend, as well as generating more income.

"Savings have had to be made but the service has worked hard to secure other funding sources."

Volunteer hours equivalent to more than 3,800 days have supported the parks and helped increase the number of annual events they host from 72 to 408 over the past three years.

Successes include free performances by local bands at the Stanley Park bandstand on Sundays between mid-May and mid-September which have attracted crowds of up to 3,000 people.

In March the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge saw work being done in Revoe Park during their visit to Blackpool.

The parks department employs 30 staff who oversee maintenance of more than 100 parks and open spaces, highway verges and roundabouts, more than 50 playgrounds and all the council's tree stock.

They also look after Marton Mere nature reserve and more than 70 sports pitches including cricket grounds, tennis courts and bowling greens.

Upcoming developments include the re-opening of Layton Recreation Ground at Queens Park.