A national society that fights for public green spaces has argued local authorities should be legally bound to care for them

At the Open Spaces Society's annual general meeting last week, vice-president Paul Clayden said the country's public parks have come under unprecedented pressure on the 50th anniversary of the Countryside Act.

While the act empowered local authorities to create county parks, the Society wants councils to have a legal duty to protect common land and green spaces.

Mr Clayden said: "In these cash-strapped times, local authorities are selling or neglecting their parks—whether country or urban parks.

"We are finding that they use the parks for inappropriate commercial activities to the detriment of the local population.

"Brockwell Park in Lambeth, Clapham Common, Lambeth, and Finsbury Park, Haringey are just a few London examples.

"The Open Spaces Society has argued for a duty on local authorities to manage and care for their parks, and for the authorities to have sufficient resources for the job.

"Along with other bodies we have endorsed the new Charter for Parks—this rekindles the spirit of the Countryside Act 1968.

"The Charter recognises the right of every citizen to have access within walking distance to a good-quality public green space, and wants to see an end to inappropriate development and abuse of parks."

His words appear particularly pertinent for Epping Forest, where the highest proportion of houses are built on Green Belt land of any district in the country.

On Sunday residents of Loughton and friends of the campaign to save Jessel Green will converge on the field, which is earmarked for destruction then housing development under the district council's Local Plan.

Newly appointed Town Mayor Councillor Stephen Murray said: "It will be a great event for the family, with competitions, activities horse and carriage rides, live music and much more.

"The event is being organised by the Loughton Town Council in conjunction with the Red Balloon Foundation, the Restore Community Church, the Epping Forest Community Church and has received sponsorship from The Cottage Loaf pub.

"It will be wonderful to see 100's of locals enjoying themselves just before England wins the World Cup whilst sending a very clear message to the district council about how much we love and use our Jessel Green."