Murad said: “We’ve learned that as part of the new government shake-up the management of the Royal Parks will transfer from the Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) to Boris Johnson. What hasn’t been made clear is whether the necessary funding to maintain the parks will also be passed to the Mayor.”
Currently the DCMS provides over £19m a year to maintain the eight Royal Parks. Only this week the Chancellor told DCMS they would have to cut their budget by £61 million, so if they can pander to the Mayor’s thirst for power by giving him the Royal Parks, without handing him the budget, they can find a third of their cuts in one fell swoop. Nice one DCMS, but potentially an own goal to Boris.
Murad said: “The Royal Parks in London are a wonderful national asset and have always been maintained to a very high standard – as any one of their 37 million visitors each year would testify – but the reason they look so good is that they have until now been allocated sufficient budget to maintain them well. If the Mayor takes on the job without the funds to do it properly then something will have to give – either the parks will suffer, or Londoners will have to pay out a lot more to keep them properly, or we could easily get a bit of both – Londoners will get higher bills and the parks will be maintained to a lower standard.”
Murad added: “As the Royal Parks department also looks after the gardens of numbers 10, 11 and 12 Downing Street, this move also makes Boris Johnson gardener in chief to David Cameron, a role he will no doubt relish.”
Murad Qureshi is a Londonwide Labour Assembly Member and is the Assembly’s Labour Group Environment spokesperson.