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Lambeth Parks Challenge invites residents to create and run virtual parks

Oxford firm White October and Lambeth Council have created an interactive challenge, called the Lambeth Parks Challenge,  that lets people build and run their own virtual green spaces.

The challenge has been developed to get more people involved in maintaining and running the boroughs parks, and to get feedback from residents on how they want the park’s budget spent.

The council’s parks service has been responsible for running the borough’s 60 parks and open spaces, making sure they are safe, clean, and cared for. But with the ambition to get residents and local communities more involved in how services are run to better meet their needs, and against a backdrop of huge public sector budget cuts, Lambeth has adopted a Cooperative Parks Programme.

Cllr Sally Prentice, Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure said: “Lambeth’s Cooperative Parks Programme is the first of its kind in the country, where communities can have a say in how parks and open spaces are run.

“The Lambeth Parks Challenge is an important part of delivering this programme as it will help us reach all members of our community and is a fun and creative way for local people to tell us what they think is important and how they think money should be spent.  It also gives people a real insight into the types of decisions the Council has to make in running a park within a set budget.”

The Lambeth Parks Challenge lets people build and run their own virtual park by deciding what improvements should be made, ranging from extra trees, a café, public toilets, and how much should be spent looking after it.

Set budgets based on actual data are used so the process and decision-making are as realistic as possible.  Users’ decisions and comments made when they take the Challenge will also give the council’s Parks Service feedback and insight into the public’s preferences and choices, which can then be used in future parks planning.

The finished Challenge will be illustrated with a simple design backed up by powerful image and data processing.  The White October team include UX/Design by Mariana Morris, development by Pete West and illustration by Sophie Klevenow.

Stephen Thomas, Project Manager, White October said: “An interactive challenge is a very effective way of engaging and educating the public in the tough choices councils have to make when managing budgets for council services.

“It’s a fun way for people to learn about what is involved in providing a service and helps people to understand what it takes to move from ‘what we would like’ to ‘what is possible given the budget.’  We are enjoying working with the Lambeth Parks team on bringing this together.”

The Lambeth Parks Challenge is scheduled for completion in early 2014. This is the second interactive challenge the firm has produced for Lambeth Council. The first was the award-winning Lambeth Library Challenge, which enables people to build their own virtual library, with materials and supplies based on actual budget data.

For more information visit the Lambeth Library Challenge website at lambeth.librarychallenge.org/

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