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Royal Parks Inquiry: Consultants' Terms of Reference

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Viscount Astor: Responsibility for the subject has been delegated to the Royal Parks Agency under its Chief Executive, David Welch. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Kennet from the Chief Executive of the Royal Parks Agency, Mr. David Welch:

I have been asked by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for National Heritage to reply to your questions concerning the consultants commissioned by the agency to enquire into the demand for more services and developments within the Royal Parks.

The terms of reference given to the consultants were to carry out a three-year study, commencing in 1994, to determine who uses the Royal Parks, satisfaction with the facilities provided and how the parks ought to be improved to give greater pleasure and widen the range of people visiting them. In the first year the consultants were required to obtain and evaluate basic data on the number of visits to the parks, the type of people who visit them and the general satisfaction with the parks and the facilities provided. In the second and third years they are to corroborate the results from the first year of the study and also to carry our more qualitative research into visitors' attitudes and views. As advised in my letter of 14 March in response to your earlier question, the total cost of the contract will depend on the scope of the survey in

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the second and third years, but is estimated not to exceed £180,000.

You asked whether the views of the Royal Parks Review Group were taken into account in developing the terms of reference. As stated in my subsequent letter of 3 April, the consultants were commissioned following a recommendation by the Review Group in its first report that market research should be carried out at regular intervals. In our brief to the consultants we also charged them to develop a suitable questionnaire, based on that used for the surveys conducted in 1992 in St James's, Green and The Regent's Parks and Primrose Hill, undertaken specifically for the group's review of those parks. In addition, we commissioned the consultants to develop and carry out additional and specific questions on Greenwich, Richmond and Bushy Parks in order that the results could be fed into the group's current review of these parks.

You also queried whether the terms of reference were discussed with various amenity groups which have an interest in the Royal Parks and whether their views were taken into consideration. The amenity groups were advised of the forthcoming study, although they were not specifically asked to comment on the scope of the study. Their views have been taken into account, however, in drawing up the revised questionnaires for the second year of study.

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