Public Vote To Preserve Parks

Lindsey
By Lindsey Last edited 116 months ago
Public Vote To Preserve Parks
clissoldparkmess.jpg

When Boris scrapped The Londoner he was fulfilling a pledge to divert the money to tree planting and 'protect and preserve' our open spaces. Today it was announced that we'll be able to vote for our local park to get a slice of the £6m pie set aside for the Priority Parks project.

Taking a leaf out of reality TV's preferred way of doing things, he told the BBC:

Londoners know best which areas are most deserving of this cash boost, so I am going to ask them to vote for the places they want to see become greener and cleaner.

While it's one thing for a public vote to decide the outcome of a telly show like Restoration, since that money is clearly windfall rather than the distribution of taxpayer's money, it's quite another to be deciding the fate of our local green spaces with a popularity contest. One over enthusiastic community group could easily swamp the online poll, like fans do the BB eviction votes. So, whilst people's opinions of which parks need help should certainly be taken into consideration, we can't help thinking that genuine consultation with local councils and those that work in the parks, rather than token reaching out to 'the people' to say Boris loves you, might be wiser.

Cynicism aside, we'd love to see our parks actually benefit from this diverted fund and who knows, they might be cropping up, profiled in a Nature-ist near you soon.

We'll alert you to the poll when it pops up.

Image of poor old Clissold Park post Stokefest courtesy of zongo69's Flickrstream under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

Last Updated 23 June 2008

Elfy

I'd not be at all surprised to see the money end up going to the parks least in need of it - the ones that are already perfectly nice, and that therefore have lots of people who go to them regularly and like them and will vote for them. The scruffy ones which don't really appeal to people will need concerted campaigns to get people to vote for them.

rathga

While it's one thing for a public vote to decide the outcome of a telly show like Restoration, since that money is clearly windfall rather than the distribution of taxpayer's money, it's quite another to be deciding the fate of our local green spaces with a popularity contest.

You're saying taxpayers shouldn't be able to say how their taxes are spent? Quite right, clearly government knows best how to spend our money. Sadly, this is hardly a surprising stance from Londondist given how left-wing this blog seems to be these days!

I think this is a great idea! The more engagement people have in local decisions like this, the better outcomes we'll undoubtedly get.

Lindsey

@rathga - I'm all for proper public engagement and consultation. Of course we should have a say as to how our taxes are spent. I think it's doubtful, however, that Boris' online poll is an appropriate mechanism, or even meant as such.

We shall see.

rathga

I agree that the poll will need to be conducted properly, but I'm not sure I understand why you say an online poll is an inappropriate mechanism. What is the distinction between an online poll and going to a polling booth on election day (which presumably you are fine with?). My assumption (perhaps wrong!) would be that votes would be taken against the electoral roll (given that the press release mentions only Londoners will vote). But as you say, we shall see.

Elfy

The difference is that when you go to the polling station for an election, you're voting for a wide raft of policies that need to be balanced to appeal to a wide range of people, not for an individual decision on where to spend money, with a simple majoritarian outcome. It particularly doesn't work when you're talking about geographic distributions of money, as then you really get into the realms of democracy as described by (I think) Rousseau as amounting to a sum of individuals' self-interest.

If we weren't talking about parks, but simply about boroughs, say, would you still think it was a good idea to have a vote to decide which borough gets an extra cash boost? People would almost invariably vote for the borough they were in, and the outcome would be a function of the size of the borough, the internet access/awareness of the people in the borough, and the dedication of any campaign group that was set up. Not a function of which borough needed it the most. Much the same applies to parks as boroughs.