Council approves new management structure for Gunnersbury Park

Image above: Gunnersbury Park Museum; photograph Jennifer Griffiths

Hounslow Council has approved proposals to reorganise the management structure of Gunnersbury Park Estate, which will mean the council taking a back seat in managing the park.

Overall responsibility for running the site will be given to the Gunnersbury Museum and Park Development Trust, which will now take over ownership of the Gunnersbury Estate (2026) CIC, which has run the park since the house was reopened, on behalf of both Hounslow and Ealing Councils.

LB Ealing’s Cabinet also has to approve the changes, which is it set to do. Under the new arrangement the councils will have board representation on the Trust which will be given a 25 year lease on the park.

The reorganisation aims to allow the management of the park to operate in a unified way with a parent charity and a wholly owned trading subsidiary. It is hoped the new structure will remove any fundraising hurdles which would help to address the park’s financial and infrastructure challenges.

Governance arrangements have have led to rejections from some significant grants makers in the past and. In cases where funding has been made available some funders, such as the Garfield Weston Foundation and Foyle Foundation, have said further funding would be dependant on improvements to the management structure.

There has been criticism of the management of the park from the start, especially when Lovebox brought in huge crowds to the park for weekend festivals in 2018 and 2019.

READ ALSO: Lovebox declared a huge cultural success

The council’s decision will likely be a welcomed by Gunnersbury Museum and Park Development Trust and funders, as many hoped to see a reduction in hands-on control by the local authorities.

Under the new arrangements the CIC will no longer be a local authority controlled company. The two councils will have a formal representative on the parent charity board, and other safeguards will be put in place to ensure the local authorities can continue to exercise influence.

The new governance arrangements are expected to come into effect in May or June 2022.

Image above: Gunnersbury Park spring flower beds; photograph Jennifer Griffiths

Gunnersbury Park ‘jewel in the crown’ of Ealing & Hounslow boroughs

During Tuesday’s cabinet meeting prior to approving the new governance structure, Cllr Steve Curran Leader of the Council, said:

“[Gunnersbury Park] is one of the jewels in the crown of Hounslow and Ealing. We need to sell it more, we need to promote it to the west of the borough. In the east it’s pretty well known but even there it’s not known enough.

He went on to praise the councils’ efforts to restore and maintain aspects of the park, saying the teams involved in looking after the park were a “credit to the borough”.

Cllr Samia Chauduary, the Cabinet Member for Leisure Services, thanked her team who were involved in looking after Gunnersbury Park. She said:

“After speaking to lots of residents from the west end of the borough about Gunnersbury, I think it’s really nice and well looked after and I would like to say a thank you to everyone who has been involved, especially my parks team and all the officers.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Gunnersbury Park becomes Jurassic Park

See also: Council approves plans to ‘reimagine’ Chiswick town centre.

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