Bury St Edmunds, Felixstowe and Haverhill parks among those given Green Flag Awards
Several parks in Suffolk have been given a special award which recognises well maintained and managed green spaces.
The Green Flag Award, in its silver jubilee year, has been given to parks in West Suffolk, East Suffolk and Ipswich.
The Abbey Gardens and Nowton Park in Bury St Edmunds; West Stow Country Park in West Stow; Brandon Country Park, in Brandon, near Thetford; East Town Park in Haverhill; Aspal Close in Beck Row, near Mildenhall; Christchurch Park, Holywells Park and Bourne Park in Ipswich and Seafront Gardens in Felixstowe are seven of 2,127 celebrating success nationwide.
The award is the international quality mark for green spaces and parks.
This is the third year that West Suffolk Council has celebrated all six of its parks and open spaces winning the award and the council has had at least one Green Flag Award every year for 13 years.
Cllr Jo Rayner, deputy leader of West Suffolk Council and portfolio holder for Leisure, Heritage and Community Hubs said: “The thing that brings our parks and open spaces to life is the enjoyment people get from using them.
"Our communities value them as places to be outside, benefit from green exercise and enjoy spending time together. All powerful antidotes to the stress of the past couple of years. And we continue to invest in the way we manage the spaces. For example we have installed a heat pump and solar panels at Nowton Park visitor centre, adapted mowing practices to encourage pollinators and have begun replacing end of life petrol fuelled kit with electric equipment.
"We would like to thank everyone who helps supports our parks, including our visitors, volunteers and partners and make sure they stay open for everyone to enjoy."
Felixstowe Seafront Gardens has won the award for the seventh year in a row. It follows East Suffolk Council’s four-year restoration project, launched in 2011, to return the Grade II listed green space to its former glory as part of a town-wide regeneration programme.
Judges reported they were impressed by the well managed and maintained Seafront Gardens, which they called a 'credit to the town' and deserving of the Green Flag Award.
The various community groups were also praised and credit was given to the strength of the Friends of Felixstowe Seafront Gardens.
Cllr Letitia Smith, East Suffolk’s cabinet member for Communities, Leisure and Tourism, said: “It is a real feat for the Seafront Gardens to be able to fly the Green Flag for the seventh year running.
“The importance to the local community of this unique spot cannot be overstated – and I’m sure it has been of particular value over the last two years, when our parks and green spaces played such a vital role as places to meet safely.
“The Green Flag Award is testament to the hard work and dedication of the management and maintenance teams, and the continued involvement of a passionate friends’ group.”
Mayor of Felixstowe, Cllr Sharon Harkin said: “We are delighted to be raising the green flag for the seventh time. Achieving the Green Flag Award demonstrates that Felixstowe Spa Gardens are being managed to the high national standard of excellence.
“A huge thank you must go to the dedication and commitment of staff and volunteers who work tirelessly all year round, keeping the gardens in top shape for both visitors and residents to enjoy.
“The award also recognises that maintaining gardens, that are well-used and valued by its community, is about more than just cutting the grass. Access to good quality green space is vital if we are to tackle some of the challenges that we face, including the growing problem of obesity, the rise in mental health issues and the feelings of being disconnected from the communities in which we live.
“Felixstowe is incredibly lucky to have such a fantastic outdoor space set against the stunning backdrop of the coast – perfect for a gentle stroll, daily dog walk, family cricket or time out to relax and unwind or simply sit still and enjoy the view.”
The Green Flag Award scheme is managed by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, under licence from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
It recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of green spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.