Saturday, 27 February 2021
HENLEY’S Mill and Marsh Meadows have received a national award for the seventh year in a row.
The Green Flag Award recognises well managed parks and green spaces and is given by Keep Britain Tidy.
Under normal circumstances, the judges can choose to make a pre-arranged or surprise inspection.
This year, the awards were all unannounced due to the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic.
Kellie Hinton, who chairs town council’s recreation and amenities committee, said: “It means a huge amount and covid makes it mean a little bit more for me.”
She called the council’s parks department its best asset.
“Most of our parks team were furloughed at some point, which made managing the parks increasingly difficult with less staff as hedges continued to grow,” said Councillor Hinton.
“On top of that, we saw more people than ever at home choosing to come to their local parks for an hour a day, which meant the increase in footfall was huge. Covid presented a whole host of new problems and issues and the parks team had to manage them quickly to make sure it was safe and enjoyable for everybody.
“We’ve also seen a change in the way people litter. The takeaway culture is stronger than ever before and we are seeing a lot more litter.
“The parks team have done an amazing job and deserve a massive pat on the back.”
The council has been given a flag, which will be displayed near Leichlingen Pavilion in Mill Meadows.
Karl Bishop, parks manager, said: “The team is absolutely ecstatic to win the award seven years in a row because it shows that the standards have not slipped.
“With covid, we have had to increase our cleaning and disinfecting the equipment.
“Due to the increase in people visiting Mill and Marsh Meadows, that has been even more important. A lot of people were on furlough and so a nice day at Mill Meadows was like a weekend day and it was extremely busy.
“When lockdown first happened, we didn’t really know what was happening. Most of the team was on furlough but only for a short while and when we came back we hit the ground running — we were a well-oiled machine.
“It is always nice to get great feedback but we are one big team and that includes Kellie and all the staff at the town hall. It is a great feeling after a tough year.”
Caversham Court Gardens have received a Green Flag award once again.
This recognises high-quality maintenance and excellent wildlife-and climate-friendly practices.
It also received a Green Heritage Site award, which is for parks which have conserved their historical features to a high standard and maintain their historic character and appearance.
Forbury Gardens in the centre of Reading also received a Green Flag award. Reading Borough Council is responsible for the green spaces and receives support from voluntary organisations.
Councillor Karen Rowland, lead member for culture, heritage and recreation, said: “It is a clear reflection of the hard work put in by both the council and voluntary organisations throughout the year to keep these parks in such good condition.
“I would like to extend my congratulations to all of those involved in the maintenance of these open spaces for their achievement.
“This year more than ever, people are valuing our precious outdoor spaces. Spending time in our beautiful parks and open spaces is incredibly beneficial for everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing.”
More than 2,000 sites across the country received a Green Flag Award this year.
Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, added: “This year, more than ever, our parks and green spaces have been a lifeline and we know that millions of people have used them to relax, meet friends, exercise or simply escape for a short time.”
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