Through the levelling up parks fund, taxpayers are providing more than £9 million to create new green spaces or significantly refurbish existing ones. The Department-owned green flag award scheme, which is currently operated under licence by Keep Britain Tidy, sets the national standard for public green spaces and encourages local authorities to ensure that parks and green spaces are welcoming, safe and well maintained.
Behind the closed doors of the town hall, Labour-controlled Erewash Borough Council is plotting to sell off large swathes of green open space, including the former Pewit golf course in Ilkeston, which had previously been designated as a nature reserve. Will my hon. Friend take steps to prevent local authorities from selling public land without first carrying out full public consultations, and will he join me on a visit to the Pewit site to discuss how we might save it from the hands of developers?
By law, local authorities are required to publish a notice and advertise it before disposing of any open space. This is exactly why it is so important that my hon. Friend is and continues to be the MP for Erewash. She can call out all the disasters of the Labour Erewash Borough Council which, as a fellow Derbyshire MP, I see Derbyshire Labour doing regularly all across my county. It has the wrong priorities and outcomes, and it makes the wrong decisions.
The Minister might know that we have wonderful public green spaces in our country—many of them are around London and in West Yorkshire—but is he aware that the decline of education departments in many local authorities owing to the policies of successive Conservative Governments means that today the ability to organise school trips to green spaces is minimal? Could we have a policy that allows all our children, of whatever background, to go to and enjoy those beautiful green spaces?
I call the Minister.
Order. Mr Sheerman, please do not take advantage of the Chair. I am trying to bring the Minister in, and I have to get many others in. You are important, but so are other people.
The hon. Gentleman should look at the Conservative party’s record on education in over 40 years in government. There have been substantial improvements in education and teaching, and our children are better readied for the challenges ahead as a result.