An opportunity needs to be identified – to inform the public of what exactly is happening to their public assets.
Regular visitors to this site may remember post’s, concerning the privatisation of our city parks. (well it’s started) You can read about it here. Of course the language the privatiser’s use is not as straight forward as the above opening sentence. The clues are hidden in phrases such as:
“An opportunity has been identified to develop a project in Kelvingrove Park which would enhance the visitor facilities and attract a range of new users to the park.” or ” land lease opportunity” or ” Fair Trade retail outlet” or “Partnership with business” In short all of this can be translated as: We (business, through your council representatives) are taking control of yet another massive chunk of the public estate. We are really robbing you but we will spend so much (of your money) on PR that you will think we are doing you a favour
Here we will start to leave the realms of what the park is, represents, or serves, i.e. a wee bit of the countryside in town, where the kids can run about or you can read the paper in peace.
Try the West End’s Botanic gardens new visitor centre and restoration budget. All details from PDF at bottom,
Parks Development Budget.
“The estimated overall scheme budget is proposed as £2,750,000 comprising construction and fit out of £2,225,000 + fees of £225,000 plus client contingency of £250,000 to cover unforeseen development costs, investigations etc… ”
The above is only the planed visitors centre, The restoration of the Kibble Palace is £8 million. All this money spent in one park, what must the Friends of Wester Common, in Hamiltonhill, think of that, or any park in the city whose users (sorry customers) are trying to get a few swings and a safe bit for the kids to play
The city was consulted of course (don’t you remember. Just like we were in the stock transfer of public housing) It was the Strategic Review of Parks and Open Spaces Public Consultation – April 2004 just to jog your memory
After the original consultation document. (I only knew about two people who had heard of it) This is what the Scotsman said about the results under the banner headline:
” City parks to invite private companies to join in shake-up”
“The review followed an extensive public consultation. More than 3,000 children responded with their views on the parks and open spaces and 670 members of the public and organisations contributed.” Scotsman
And here, a paragraph referring to consultation on the Botanic’s Multi millions project
“Initial consultation has taken place with the Friends of Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Glasgow West Conservation Trust and the local Councilor all of whom have expressed approval of the concepts
presented. An initial approach has been made to Kelvinside Community Council but unfortunately they will not be in a position to consider details at present, due to timescales. The secretary however has indicated that they would be inclined to follow the advice of the Friends of Glasgow Botanic Gardens and the
Glasgow West Conservation Trust in relation to this type of proposal within the Botanic Gardens. The Friends of the Botanic Gardens have sent a letter expressing that they found the designs very exciting, highly original and with many attractive features particularly in the versatility of usage of the premises. They further indicate that they consider the proposed development could do much to further the education mission of the Gardens and increase their public appeal even further. The Glasgow West Conservation Trust have indicated that they feel the proposals are the correct way forward in the development of this corner of the Gardens and the improvement of facilities for both local users and visitors and have submitted a letter giving strong backing to the scheme. ”
Is it enough
Schemes of these proportions affecting parks all over the city, should not be decided upon by the consent of local groups. This vast amount of commercial development will have vital financial implications for the whole of the city, and if 670 members of the public is all that the council can muster to rubber stamp such major commercial shifts in the use of public property, perhaps it needs to spend a bit more of the public purse, on informing and consulting the public. If budgets for such facile and blatant, free business advertising, such as “Glasgow City of Style”, can draw so much of our uninterested, attention – perhaps we should be spending the same on public consultation – on maters concerning the fate of the cities major assets – which I am sure the public would be very interested in.
Glasgow City Council
Delivering enhanced visitor facilities in parks (PDF)
Reading on public relations: Toxic Sludge is good for you Find out what government, the public relations industry and big business, have in store for you.