URGENT action is needed to halt the decline in quality of Scotland's parks as a new survey reveals that the number of visits people make to their local green spaces is at an all time low.

This year's Greenspace Use and Attitudes survey, which will be published tomorrow, found that two out of five people thought the quality of their local green space had reduced in the last five years, while half of those living in more deprived areas agreed that standards had slipped.

Councils are spending almost £30 million less maintaining parks than they were three years ago and workforces have also been slashed.

The survey reveals that 43 per cent of Scots now visit their local park weekly, the lowest figure since the survey started in 2004. In 2009 nearly two-thirds of Scots said they went there every week.

People who live within a five-minute walk of their local green space – a Scottish Government target for all Scots – are significantly more likely to visit regularly. More than half of urban Scots live further away.

Many surveyed no longer believe their closest park is fit for purpose. Only 43 per cent of respondents strongly agreed that the green space in their community was a good place for kids to play. The number of people who would hesitate to take the kids there was even lower amongst the 25-34 year old age group – those most likely to have young children – at 37 per cent.

Julie Procter, chief executive of Greenspace Scotland, said that with 92 per cent of respondents agreeing that parks were important, action was needed to halt the “marked decline” in the quality of “our national treasures”.

Council expenditure on parks has fallen from £190 million in 2010-11 to £167m in 2014-15 and is likely to fall further. Some Scottish councils, including Edinburgh City, are reporting their parks’ workforce has been reduced by a third in last five years.

"To put it in context it costs £30million for just one mile of motorway,” she added. “It's a fairly small cut but it's storing up problems for the future and having a real impact in terms of our communities and our health.”

She added, "The short answer is that we need more resources. But it's also about finding more joined-up ways of working and thinking." Suggestions include swapping high maintenance begonia beds for wild flower meadows, supporting friends of the park organisations better and sourcing additional resources through crowdfunding campaigns or endowment funds.

Helen Carroll, of the newly formed Friends of Eastfield park group in Springburn, a deprived area in the north of Glasgow, said that the local community park was dark, overgrown and abandoned. Following an assault that took place last year locals, including her, said it felt unsafe and avoided it. "I used to go jogging there," she said. "If I felt safe enough I still would.

"There are lots of elderly people and families living here. There is a brain injury unit nearby, a primary and a high school and residents of the housing association all desperate to use it. We are just being ignored."

She admits some work did start – Glasgow City Council said it made improvements to entrances, removed debris and pruned back trees in September – but is not ongoing. A GCC spokeswoman said it "envisaged" investment after the group had set its priorities.

But Carroll believes that if she lived in a more affluent area the park would not have been left to fall into such poor repair. "We have plenty of betting shops and plenty of pharmacies, " she added. "But we all know how much health and well being would benefit if we had access to parks."

GCC said its household survey figures show 86 per cent customer satisfaction with parks and 67 per cent for play areas, which it says is "notable considering the pressures on budgets".

David Jamieson, head of Edinburgh Parks, claimed his council was also feeling the pinch. “We’re at a tipping point,” he said. We are struggling with resources even for the basic things like litter, cutting grass and maintaining flowerbeds. There are lots of fantastic community groups but they can’t fill the gap on their own.”

The Sunday Herald spoke with several friends groups who had been supported by the council to transform their local parks. Members of the Dunfermline Public Park Improvement Group added a community woodland, lighting and staged an annual festival which last year attracted over 4,000 people.

In Glasgow’s Springburn Park the friends group is taking over the abandoned park workers' base and has ambitious plans to restore the Winter Garden, while in the west end of Glasgow local residents raised thousands of pounds to make Hayburn Park into a community hub with landscaping, a small orchard, seating and new play equipment. But all admitted it took hard work and commitment that would not be possible everywhere..

Matt Lowther, principal public health adviser for NHS Health Scotland, said the results of the survey were disappointing. "If we want a fairer, healthier Scotland where people live well for longer, we need good quality greenspace," he added.

A Convention of Scottish Local Authorities spokesman said it was currently in talks with the Scottish Government regarding the spending review. "COSLA will be presenting a strong case that local government cannot sustain further cuts, as experienced over the last two years, without significant impact on services and jobs, and most importantly the communities we serve to protect," he said.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it had invested £6.3m since 2010 in projects that are promoting active travel, woodland planting, community growing and restoring land and was committed to "protecting, enhancing and promoting" green infrastructure.