While the Gardens have had a happy recent past, the future is less certain. Maintenance of public spaces is not a statutory responsibility for local councils so users need, more than ever, to give public spaces a voice.

Local councils are under pressure to use their green spaces to generate income, but we have no guarantee that income earned from corporate events will be ploughed back into park and garden maintenance. As Travis Elborough has written (A Walk in the Park, 2016), it is easy to take parks for granted, think they have always been here and always will be. But they need to be cherished and politicians need to know how much local people value them. Commercial events interrupt the peaceful use of green spaces by local people. They might be tolerated within agreed limits and with income ploughed back, but not on any other terms.

St George’s Gardens first became an outdoor sitting room in 1884 so that local people could lead healthier lives. We still need parks and gardens for exercise and quiet. The Friends of St George’s Gardens are committed to defending this lovely space, working with other local groups and doing whatever is necessary to raise awareness of how important it is to local people.

The Friends very much welcome Parliament’s Communities and Local Government Select Committee inquiry into the future of the UK’s public parks. The inquiry is to ‘examine the impact of reduced local authority budgets on these open spaces and consider concerns that their existence is under threat…’ It will be looking at how parks should be supported now and in the future.