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Vauxhall One and Vauxhall City Farm launch Co-Operative Parks Proposal

At the invitation of Lambeth Council, Vauxhall City Farm and Vauxhall One have expressed interest in taking over the management of five parks – Vauxhall Park, Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, Pedlars Park, Old Paradise Street Gardens and Albert Embankment Garden

Once you have read through this page laying out Vauxhall One and Vauxhall City Farm’s proposal for parks in Vauxhall, we would ask if you could please fill out this short survey.

Why are Vauxhall One and Vauxhall City Farm doing this?

Because:

  • The Council will have 50% less money to spend on Parks from next April. This means that new ways have to be found to maintain community parks and green spaces for the benefit of all.
  • Quality parks and green spaces are important to all of us who live, work, play, or visit in Vauxhall.
  • Vauxhall already has less green space per 1000 residents than any other part of Lambeth. And soon will have to cope with the needs of: 1. 40,000 extra residents, 2. 25,000 extra workers, and 3. At least 300,000 extra visitors each year.
  • The Council asked Vauxhall City Farm and Vauxhall One to make a joint application to support Vauxhall’s Parks at a Lambeth-wide Parks conference (in mid-May) for charities and other ‘not-for- profit’ organisations that have proven capacity to help.

Why didn’t you consult us before you applied?

Because the Council gave us 2 weeks to decide if we would volunteer, and to put together our initial Expression of Interest, which had to be lodged by end-May.But we did base our application on Vauxhall One’s consultations with 20 local community groups over the last 3 years, and Vauxhall City Farm’s week-in/week-out surveying, feedback and dialogue with local communities, schools and visitors.

Will you listen to us now?

YES! This is not going to be easy, and we need all the constructive ideas and help we can get! We want to hear from as many people as possible.

When will the Council decide?

End-July: Lambeth Council’s Cabinet is expected to make an in-principle decision about the best way.

Aug-Sept: Lambeth Council’s officers will carry out a series of technical and public interest tests and discussions

October: Councillors take final decisions

What about the Friends of Parks?

We respect the role and hard work of Friends groups, and we want to include them at the heart of decision-making and volunteering. But we recognise that:

  • Not all local Parks have formal Friends groups.
  • Many green spaces that are important locally are not (legally) “Parks”, but are sited on local Housing Estates, street corners, and road verges.
  • The current consultation and work (that is being led by the KOV Forum) to develop a Neighbourhood Plan for Vauxhall already shows widespread and strong support for increasing the overall greenness of Vauxhall by “greening” streets and by creating a green link across the gyratory to link Vauxhall’s 2 biggest parks.

So, our proposals are not all about Parks.

Green Vauxhall

And our vision is not limited to any single park. We want to create a wide partnership that brings to the table as many diverse communities, and as many voices (and active volunteers!) as possible. All 5 Vauxhall parks are within 10 minutes walking distance of each other.

We believe that the most practical (and cost-effective) approach is to think about them as a whole – whilst respecting the fact that the parks differ in quality and tradition; represent distinct aspects of Vauxhall’s 2000-year heritage; and are most used by their immediate neighbours.Our ambition is to maintain the standards of the best parks, and (over time) improve other parks (and neighbouring open spaces).We want to link all those parks by a Vauxhall Green Trail – from the Garden Museum to Vauxhall Park – and link it with the promised Nine Elms linear park to Battersea.

VauxhallOne have fund-raised and installed the first section (in front of the Teahouse Theatre), and secured funding (from Transport for London) for the next stretch along Vauxhall Walk.And use that Green Trail to celebrate ALL eras in Vauxhall‘s long history.

Why were Vauxhall City Farm and Vauxhall One invited to apply?

Because:

  • Vauxhall City Farm has been at the heart of all Vauxhall’s communities for 40 years; providing an oasis that values, serves, and welcomes all communities, ages, and social classes.
  • We are a “not for profit organisation” and every penny we raise goes back into our services to communities, biodiversity, and children. Our mission is to use green open spaces to provide educational, recreational and therapeutic activities and benefits for our communities.

Because:

  • Vauxhall One is the only organisation that can represent, and mobilise the resources of all Vauxhall employers and workers.
  • We are a not-for-profit organisation, financed mainly by local businesses who voted (by 9 to 1) to pay an extra 1% on their Business rates each year to be used to enhance Vauxhall.

Did you know that Vauxhall City Farm:

  • Employs 16 staff (2 local apprentices) – and fund-raises over £600K a year?
  • Supports over 100 schools with 75% of children we teach having a heritage other than British?
  • Carries on the proud heritage of Lambeth as a “market garden” that fed London for 1500 years?
  • Is designated as a site of special biodiversity interest?
  • Trained a local boy who rode for Nigeria in the 2012 Olympics?
  • Gave 263 local people volunteering opportunities during 2014?
  • Is a mainstay of the Lambeth Country Show, and a huge range of community events?

Did you know that Vauxhall One:

  • Members are mostly small and medium-sized local businesses, with long roots in Vauxhall, and real commitment to the area?
  • Already pay for street wardens, new CCTV cameras and 2 extra police officers for Goding Street?
  • Carries on the proud heritage of Vauxhall as a centre for:
    • Entertainment, enjoyment, and hospitality for those who live and visit London.
    • Artistic and cultural activities (with a growing “Vauxhall Art Quarter” opposite the Tate), and free tickets for residents to events.
    • Industry, design and enterprise (that includes names like Doulton & Vauxhall Motors)

What Governance Structure do you propose?

We propose to establish a Charity/Community-Interest Company, limited by guarantee. With a 2-tier structure:

  1. A small “Trustee Board” that would meet 10-12 times a year, and might include representatives from Councillors, Vauxhall City Farm and VauxhallOne, Friends Groups, (and/or groups such as VERGTA in respect of Pedlar’s Park) plus KOV (as the recognised “umbrella” group for wider community groups)
  2. A “Vauxhall Parks council” that would meet 3-4 times a year and have a much wider membership from our communities.

What will your Governing Principles be?

We are proposing that the following ‘principles’ govern the new company’s activities in all five parks.

  • We will meet, and strive to exceed, the current management standards of the five parks.
  • We will seek to link and enhance the greenness and ecological value of these 5 parks as soon as practicable by a creating a new “Green Trail” that will be anchored at its northern end by the Garden Museum, in its middle by Vauxhall City Farm, and at its southern end by Vauxhall Park’s existing plantings.
  • In the first year of the new company, we will publish an environmental & ecological strategy for the 5 parks that shows how we will improve their overall diversity of planting and the habitats for wildlife.
  • By the end of the first year of operation, we will consult on, and publish a detailed ten-year capital plan for the five parks, indicating how – where necessary – they can be brought up to the standard of similar London parks.
  • Every two years we will consult upon and publish an annual events strategy. All events applications will be strictly tested against it.
  • We will put employment and volunteering opportunities at the heart of the new company, always seeking opportunities to engage, train and employ local residents.
  • We will celebrate the exceptionally diverse cultures of our communities, promoting the 5 parks and (the ‘Green Trail’ that will join them) as a gateway to Vauxhall’s unique 2000-year history; we will seek to attract and educate students of all ages.
  • We will encourage the area’s new visitors to come to Vauxhall’s parks. But we will ensure that their impact is always managed; and that each park continues to serve local communities.
  • Before the new company commences work, we will publish a diversity and equality policy covering all our activities.

How will you staff the parks?

We plan to appoint three additional full-time staff – a Parks Manager, supported by two apprentices (ideally local residents).These individuals will be located in Vauxhall City Farm (from where all 5 parks can be quickly accessed), and supported (as required) by a variety of other staff, already working (and/or paid for) by either Vauxhall One or Vauxhall City Farm.

They include:

  • Public Realm & Safety Director (Vauxhall One)
  • Education/Ecology Managers (Vauxhall City Farm)
  • Technician (Vauxhall One)
  • Marketing/Events Manager (Vauxhall One)
  • Community Fundraising Manager (Vauxhall City Farm)
  • Charitable Grants Fundraiser (Vauxhall City Farm)
  • Communications & Marketing Officer (Vauxhall One)
  • Wardens & Police (Vauxhall One)
  • Financial & Administrative Functions(Both organisations)

A large amount of these individuals’ time will be given ‘in kind’ (i.e. at no cost) to the new park company.In addition, Vauxhall City Farm will extend its proven ability to attract volunteers to provide extra seasonal support to all 5 parks.And VauxhallOne will similarly encourage its member businesses to direct their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) commitments locally; and make greater use of its existing Community Payback scheme for young/minor offenders.

How much do our parks cost to run?

We understand that the current maintenance budget for the two major parks – Vauxhall Park and Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens – is around £90,000pa. We do not yet know how much is spent on the other three parks.We expect to invest more. Our estimate is that a yearly budget of around. £125,000 is required to cover staff costs and other operating costs.

How will you meet this cost?

We are currently talking to the Council to understand how much income they intend to provide in the form of grant, and for how long.We believe that we can raise significant further income from:

  • Securing charitable grants for employment and environmental projects
  • Promoting membership and other community fundraising initiatives
  • Hosting events – the proceeds of which will be reinvested in running the parks
  • Offering refreshments to visitors from a new kiosk in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens

Are you also seeking to make improvements to the parks?

We believe that all the parks are in need of improvement, although Vauxhall Park and Paradise Park are in significantly better shape than the others.In the first year of our tenure, we plan to produce a ten-year plan for the parks, indicating the improvements that we will be seeking to make. We will consult widely on this plan. This plan will give us a ‘shopping list’ of improvements.In the shorter term, we would like to do the following:

  • Install a new kiosk in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. This will help us to generate income from refreshments, but will also ensure that any crime or anti-social behaviour is immediately reported. Vauxhall One already pays for street wardens, plus 2 additional Police Officers assigned to the Dispersal zone
  • Create a new building in Vauxhall Park to replace the existing One O’Clock Club. This will provide a new high-quality events space for the area, and allow us to generate further income.
  • Acquire equipment for the maintenance of the park. Most notably we will need a lawnmower! We will find out whether purchase, lease or loan arrangements are the most cost-effective and efficient.
  • Improve the signage in and around the parks.
  • Install simple interpretation boards where they do not currently exist.
  • Make small-scale landscape improvements to the three smaller parks.

Please don’t forget to complete the survey to let us know what you think.

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