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Reaction to Finsbury Park rating “hysterical”

Town Hall's questioning of damning report slammed as looking "petty"

04 February, 2019 — By Emily Finch

HARINGEY Council has been branded “hysterical” after it claimed another critical report into how it manages Finsbury Park was unfair.

The local authority, which manages the 100-acre park that borders Islington and Hackney, had been told to stop displaying a Keep Britain Tidy green flag in October following a damning assessment in autumn.

Just before Christmas, the government-run scheme made another inspection with a “mystery shopper” exercise.
An inspector later reported that the “park most certainly does not measure up to even the most basic standards of the award right now”.

The report highlighted how the park had received “significant investment” from the Heritage Lottery Fund and added: “It is dis- appointing for this judge to revisit this site and see this investment has not been built upon.”

The inspector added: “[The park] is far below the standards even the most understanding of the general public should be demanding. An exception- ally depressing and worry- ing experience all round.”

They also said the “entire park is in desperate need of an infrastructure overhaul with paths and road ways in poor condition”.
Thousands of parks and green spaces across the country are inspected as part of the scheme which rewards well-maintained spaces with a recognisable green flag to fly in the park.

Haringey Council, how- ever, has questioned the inspection, and said in a statement: “We do not believe that the suggested ratings are a fair assessment and are concerned about some of the comments made. We are now n discussion with Keep Britain Tidy about how the scheme is being marked and handled and the methodology of the inspection regime. We are also asking whether other boroughs have faced a similar level of inspection.”

Clive Carter, a former Lib Dem councillor and a trustee of Friends of Finsbury Park group, called Haringey’s reaction to the interim report “hysterical”.

He said: “They care more about the flag flying than caring about the park’s maintenance. I can’t believe a local government body is moaning like this, it looks so petty. It feels as if they are preparing to withdraw from the award, which is worrying as at it keeps the council in check.”

Haringey environment chief Councillor Kirsten Hearn, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “We want a constructive relationship with Keep Britain Tidy and value the Green Flag scheme – we signed up to it voluntarily to celebrate our parks and to ensure that we are keeping them to the highest standards. However, we do have concerns about the recent inspections and are asking Keep Britain Tidy for clarity on how the scheme is delivered.”

She added: “We are not saying our parks are perfect – we know there is work to do. But we are incredibly proud of Haringey’s green spaces and certainly do not feel that, following the round of improvements we have made, these parks are anywhere near the ratings suggested. Working together is the best way to ensure our parks continue to be a success.”

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