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Much-loved parks and gardens in Suffolk and north Essex celebrate Green Flag success

PUBLISHED: 16:17 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 08:20 17 July 2018

Abbey Gardens retained the award for a seventh year Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD

Abbey Gardens retained the award for a seventh year Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD

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Parks and gardens across Suffolk and north Essex are celebrating after being honoured with prestigious Green Flag awards.

Aspal Close Nature Reserve in Mildenhall was given a Green Flag award for the first time Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCILSAspal Close Nature Reserve in Mildenhall was given a Green Flag award for the first time Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCILS

The Green Flag scheme is run by Keep Britain Tidy and is awarded to green spaces which are safe, clean and well looked after.

It was a record-breaking year for parks and gardens achieving Green Flag status – with 1,883 recognised across the UK.

Christchurch Park and Holywells Park in Ipswich scooped awards with Felixstowe Seafront Gardens another winner.

In west Suffolk, Aspal Close Nature Reserve in Mildenhall was given a Green Flag award for the first time, while the Abbey Gardens and Nowton Park in Bury St Edmunds, West Stow Country Park, near Bury, and East Town Park, in Haverhill, all retained the award for the seventh year in a row.

Clacton Seafront and Marine Gardens scooped a Green Flag Picture: TENDRING DISTRICT COUNCILClacton Seafront and Marine Gardens scooped a Green Flag Picture: TENDRING DISTRICT COUNCIL

West Suffolk councils also took over the running of Brandon Country Park earlier this year but the authority said it was too late to put it forward for assessment and it hopes to gain the award next year.

Andy Drummond, Forest Heath District Council’s cabinet member for leisure and culture said: “We know, particularly at this time of the year, that residents of all ages enjoy getting out doors and enjoying spending time in our parks and open spaces.

“As well as being great for our physical health it is also good for our mental health as well. That is why we put every effort into making sure that they are places people can enjoy and that they are clean, safe and well maintained.”

The Abbey Gardens in Bury has continued to see more than 1.5 million visitors a year, while Nowton Park has become ever popular with regular park runs, charity and music events.

Cliff Park in Dovercourt were also winners Picture: TENDRING DISTRICT COUNCILCliff Park in Dovercourt were also winners Picture: TENDRING DISTRICT COUNCIL

West Stow has seen a huge increase in school visits in recent years while East Town Park saw an investment in new play equipment last year which has only added to its appeal.

Joanna Rayner, St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “We pride ourselves in recognising the value and investing in leisure and culture.

“From The Apex to our parks and open spaces, they all add to the reasons why people want to live and work in west Suffolk and enjoy their quality time here.

“Some of them such as the Abbey Gardens also attract visitors from outside of the area, which in turn has a positive impact on our local businesses and the economy.

“But for the residents we represent they are simply a place where people can go for a walk or a run, relax and enjoy time with their loved ones amid beautiful surroundings.”

Tendring was also recognised and judges were particularly impressed with the involvement of community volunteers at its award-winning green spaces.

Cliff Park in Dovercourt and the Seafront and Marine Gardens in Clacton both wowed judges following recent assessments and kept hold of the prestigious awards they won last year.

Weeley Crematorium and The Crescent Garden, Frinton, also scooped awards.

Michael Talbot, Tendring District Council cabinet member for environment, said: “Our open spaces team, working closely with volunteers in many areas, work really hard to keep our parks and gardens wonderful spaces for people to enjoy.

“That is no mean feat, in particular dealing with the current spell of hot, dry weather, and their efforts are to be applauded.”

Colchester was also celebrating after Castle Park, High Woods Country Park and Colchester Cemetery and Crematorium picked up awards for their efforts this year.

Tina Bourne, portfolio holder for housing and communities, said: “Congratulations to all the members of our parks and open spaces teams whose hard work and dedication to ensure our parks are welcoming, well maintained and safe, have helped secure these national awards for the borough’s much-loved green spaces.

“Credit must also go to the many volunteers who help us keep these wonderful spaces clean and green.

“We will continue to work hard to manage these wonderful outdoor spaces to the highest standards both for a nature and wildlife and to encourage even more visitors to enjoy these quality green spaces we are so lucky to have on our doorsteps.”

Cudmore Grove Country Park, in East Mersea, and Great Notley Country Park, near Braintree, were also Essex winners.

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