St Andrew's Square

The Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN);  the largest greenspace initiative in Europe, wants to celebrate and share learning from the City of Edinburgh Council’s Parks Team after it was voted the top team in the UK.

Keith Geddes, Chair of the Central Scotland Green Network Partnership, said “We have an example of best practice right here on our doorstep and we plan to ensure the knowledge is communicated across central Scotland. Austerity in the public sector economy does not mean we have to lose quality, as this award shows. We intend to do our bit by helping make sure that best practice is communicated and shared.”  

The local authority team in Edinburgh, one of the 19 local authorities covered by the CSGN area, was voted the ‘Best Service Team: Parks, Ground and Horticultural Service’ at the Association for Public Sector Excellence Awards last month.

Following the award, the CSGN is hoping to use the success of the Edinburgh Parks Team as a demonstration study to share their ideas and approaches with the other local authority teams across the CSGN area.  This will include information on the CSGN website and presentations at appropriate seminars and events.

The CSGN initiative has an all-encompassing remit, far beyond just a ‘green’ initiative.  It aims to deliver a step change in environmental quality to support the economic, social, physical and cultural wellbeing of Central Scotland, including meeting the challenge of climate change.

Keith Geddes said: “The CSGN aims to make the Central Belt a more attractive place in which to live, work and do business. Parks teams across the local authorities within the CSGN area play a huge part in making this possible and it’s fantastic when their hard work is rewarded.

“We would like to congratulate the Edinburgh Parks Team on their recent success and hope that sharing best practice with the other local authority teams within the CSGN area will encourage them to follow Edinburgh’s lead.”

Edinburgh was recognised as a local authority which has successfully improved the quality of its parks and greenspaces after widening ownership to officers, elected members and communities which allowed them to readily identify and positively respond to customer needs.

As well as bringing Council staff together from across a number of service areas to improve parks and greenspaces, the Parks Team also worked with many community groups and built relationships with key organisations such as the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Edinburgh University.

This led to the sharing of horticultural knowledge and expertise, collective resourcing of environmental improvements and a multi-disciplinary approach to operational management of the various features and sites.

David Jamieson, Head of Parks & Greenspace at the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “We recognised the strengths and weaknesses of the service, identified what works well elsewhere and then tailored this to address areas of particular weakness in Edinburgh.

“At the outset, we gained knowledge of the scale and quality of the city’s open space. Once we had this information, we were better able to evidence the need for change and encourage people to engage with the process of sustainable improvement.

“As a result, not only have we been voted the UK’s Best Parks Team but we have also achieved a record of 20 Green Flag Awards throughout Edinburgh which is a great achievement and something we intend to build on in the future.

“I am very grateful to all those who helped us secure these awards, and proud that residents and visitors can enjoy a first class experience in our parks.”