The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has downgraded plans to give City Hall control of the Royal Parks.
In January Tourism Minister John Penrose set out plans to “pass control of the Royal Parks from the DCMS to the Greater London Authority” and committed the Government to “legislate when the opportunity arises”.
However on Monday Mr Penrose laid a Written Ministerial Statement before Parliament in which he said the parks would “remain in Crown ownership, under the overall responsibility of the Culture Secretary” with City Hall now merely gaining “a voice in the parks’ management.”
Under revised proposals the Royal Parks “will remain an Executive Agency of DCMS and the responsibility of the Secretary of State” while a new Royal Parks Board will be created to “provide a voice for the Mayor and for London in how the Parks are managed.”
Owing to the scaled down nature of the reforms, the Minister’s statement says primary legislation is no longer needed.
The Mayor will have the the power to appoint members of the Board however Penrose makes clear that “Board arrangements will be kept under review by the Secretary of State.”
Ministerial oversight would appear to undermine the original plan to transfer responsibility “to the Mayor, rather than a remote figure in national government.”
In a statement Mayor Boris Johnson said: “We welcome this announcement confirming that Londoners and their elected Mayor will have a far greater and more direct say in how these crown jewels of the capital are run. This process is getting underway in a pragmatic and cost effective way.”
The eight parks are:
• Bushy Park,
• The Green Park,
• Greenwich Park,
• Hyde Park,
• Kensington Gardens,
• The Regent’s Park including Primrose Hill,
• Richmond Park
• St. James’s Park.