Faced with a 90% reduction in its parks budget, Newcastle City Council is considering transferring the city’s parks and allotments to a new charitable trust. Open Lab researchers worked with the Council to design a consultation programme to help local people contribute meaningfully to the decision-making processes on how the city’s parks should be managed in the future.
Through a series of workshops and online discussions, the consultation examined a series of future-oriented scenarios organised around four broad themes: how parks should be funded, the activities they should support, how decisions should be made, and what role volunteers should play.
Let’s Talk Parks workshops invited residents, allotment holders, the business community, local volunteer groups, park managers and rangers, and other interested parties to work as a team using a bespoke board game-style process to share values and then consider different scenarios and bring their ideas together into a collective response. In addition, weekly hour-long debates on Twitter provided opportunities to discuss options and engage with dynamic polls around alternative futures for Newcastle’s parks. The Let’s Talk Parks website acted as a repository for ideas and a platform for further discussion.
The values, ideas and opinions shared during the digital civics engagement process, alongside the Council’s own consultation, will shape the new charitable trust.