Bexley Council has sparked fury among park lovers by proposing to sell off a quarter of its open spaces to save cash.

The "parks and open spaces" policy suggests disposing of 27 out of 106 sites  to retain maintenance on the remaining spaces.

Otherwise the council says there will only be "minimal" funding and some playgrounds would be forced to close.

Mandy Stevens, a member of community group Friends of the Shuttle, is angry about the plan to sell off the land.

She told News Shopper: "We don’t know about the detail but I feel very worried about it

"I can appreciate the council is under pressure but we would be willing to help them with the maintenance, as would many friends groups.

"Yes, we are a green borough but we’re losing more and more green spaces.

"If we’re not careful, one day people will look around and just see lots of concrete."

The consultation in principle, released by Bexley Council, did not list which spaces were at risk - a fact that frustrated many campaigners and led to rumours of Danson Park being sold off.

Mandy Stevens

News Shopper:

Ms Stevens made a freedom of information request to find out what sites were earmarked for disposal but the council declined her request.

The council’s head of park and open spaces Colin Rowland told her: "The information you are requesting is held by the council as ‘internal communication’.

"At this early stage it is believed only those residents living in close proximity to the potential green sites would participate and therefore the council would not receive a wider response from residents in other parts of the borough."

Green Party candidate for Bexleyheath and Crayford Stella Gardiner also condemned the plans.

She said:  “Valuable wildlife sites in urban areas protect wildlife and are important for the wellbeing and recreation of communities.

“The council should be establishing more habitats not destroying them - otherwise we will have lost them forever.”

Stella Gardiner

News Shopper:

Bexley Natural Environment Forum’s vice chair Chris Rose said: “We’d like to see less vegetation management anyway – it would be interesting to see less managed sites and better for the wildlife.

“They need to say what sites are at risk and treat us like adults.

“One of the things people value the most in the borough is the open spaces.”

He challenged Councillor Sharon Massey to publish the list of at-risk spaces after she accused News Shopper of "scaremongering" on the issue, but so far the detail remains a mystery.

A council spokeswoman said: "This proposal relates to pieces of land rather than parks. 

"Demand for services continues to increase while our government grant is falling. 

"The result is we need to save around another £50 million over the next four years. 

"Without the disposal programme there would only be funding for minimal maintenance in all parks and open spaces: grounds maintenance for sport would cease, playgrounds would close, litter bins and dog waste bins would be removed. 

"Reducing the amount of work carried out within our parks and open spaces would ultimately mean less people would be needed to provide the service."

News Shopper:

The deadline for the first stage of consultation ended last month.

For information on the next stage, visit or visit this site.

What do you think Bexley Council should do? 

We put Bexley Council’s options to News Shopper readers to see whether they thought some spaces should be sold off or maintenance should be cut.

More than 600 people responded:

Sell off 27 open spaces to boost the maintenance budget for the rest: 11 per cent (74 respondents)

Cut the overall maintenance budget for the open spaces: News Shopper: 89 per cent (582)

Bexley’s green credentials 

  • Bexley's parks and open spaces cover 670 hectares 
  • It is the 10th largest borough in London in terms of green space 
  • Bexley in Bloom is no longer managed by the council and did not take place last year
  • Community competition, Bexley Environmental Challenge, closed in 2013 after 21 years