§ 22. Mr. Illsley
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to provide assistance to improve local municipal parks. 
§ Ms Beverley Hughes
Since 1997–98, Government grant to local government has gone up by 13.6 per cent. in real terms. Local authority spending on the Environmental, Protective and Cultural Services Block which covers spending on parks, will increase each year by an average 1.8 per cent. in real terms up to 2003–04. We are also encouraging more effective use of resources and promoting better practice, by developing more specific Best Value performance indicators and a new Beacon Council theme for 'Improving Urban Green Spaces'
Last November, we published our Urban White Paper—"Our towns and cities: the future", which sets out our comprehensive proposals for improving urban parks, play areas and green spaces. In January we set up the Urban Green Spaces Taskforce, which has begun its work to drive forward the implementation of our commitments. We will set up a Working Group of the Taskforce to examine resource issues and how to make best use of the funding streams that are available.