In April 2014, TLG idverde was asked to consider the feasibility of delivering the Parks and Greenspace provision at Bromley Council as one holistic managed service.
The objectives for the project were to:
- Increase the responsiveness of the service to Friends and other stakeholder groups
- Make a dramatic shift in the flexibility of deploying available resources in accord to changes in funding, and preferences of stakeholders.
- Maintain the high level of service achieved in recent years (both in terms of community interface and operationally ‘on the ground’)
- Reduce costs by removing duplicated effort; increase officer productivity and eliminate unnecessary activities
Bromley is London’s largest and greenest Borough, with 160 parks, greenspace and countryside sites (including the regional Crystal Palace Park), 52 Allotments, 30 football, rugby, cricket and bowls clubs and 66 playgrounds.
The countryside of Bromley provided much of the inspiration for the work of Charles Darwin, and includes six Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s), five Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) and 93 Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC’s). In addition it has a number of Scheduled Ancient Monuments and two Statutorily Listed Parks and Gardens (Crystal Palace Park and Priory Gardens, Orpington).
Community engagement at Bromley had always been intense, with 40 active Friends Groups, and involving local people in maintaining and developing these green spaces has always been central to the Council’s approach. This has resulted in an enviable track record of delegation and self-management. This level of engagement does not come easily. It requires building the capacity of local people to undertake these roles.
idverde researched the work of the former Parks and Greenspace Team with the help of senior officers and was able to demonstrate a good understanding of the deliverables required for the community-based Greenspace service. As the current grounds maintenance and cemetery management contractor, we were already fully familiar with operational requirements; and the delivery of services under a ‘thin strategic client’ model that would be necessary.
A range of potential operating models representing varying levels of risk were assessed and following feedback from Bromley Elected Members and officers, refined this to arrive at a proposed low-risk offer; yet still yielding a significant saving to the Authority.
The new ‘wholly managed’ service went live in June 2015 with teams restructured to avoid duplication of duties and create vital business aspects to drive the service forward. The result was an all-inclusive Parks and Greenspace undertaking based on a number of Neighbourhoods and Communities. A General Manager is in charge of each Neighbourhood and is responsible for all aspects of the service in their Neighbourhood – both the community-faced service/liaison and the delivery of the maintenance regime.
From a communities and localism perspective, this outcome delivers exactly what Bromley stakeholders have always wanted: that is, a greater say in what happens on the ground in their communities – and which has been achieved without reducing the previous standards of service.
In November 2015, the Council approved a new Parks, Greenspace and Countryside Strategy for the Borough, drafted and consulted upon by TLG idverde, which is now adopted as Policy.
For full details of this project please visit www.bromleyparks.co.uk