Joy over Green Flag status for region's parks and open spaces

Community groups and council leaders in the region have expressed their joy after more than 60 parks and open spaces were handed Green Flag Awards.

A total of 63 locations across the Black Country, Birmingham and Staffordshire made the grade which is the national standard for spaces across the UK.

Groups across the region have also been handed Community Awards and Green Heritage Site awards – alongside the main accolade by chiefs.

It has led to leaders heaping praise on the people behind the scenes who have worked tirelessly to keep them up to a high standard amid the pandemic.

Dudley saw eight claim Green Flag Awards, including Buffery Park, Huntingtree Park, Mary Stevens Park, Priory Park, Saltwells Nature Reserve among others.

Councillor Karen Shakespeare, cabinet member for public realm, said: "Our borough is blessed with a number of beautiful green spaces.

"I am really pleased that the hard work of our teams and local community volunteers has been recognised once again with this prestigious status."

A further 13 made the grade in Sandwell – including Barnford Park, Brunswick Park, Sandwell Valley Country Park, Warley Woods and Canal & River Trust's Main Line Canal, which runs from Birmingham to Smethwick.

Sandwell Council's deputy leader Councillor Maria Crompton said: "This is a real tribute to the hard work of everyone involved, including council and Serco staff, friends groups and many community volunteers. Well done to everyone involved in this achievement."

Seven spaces in Walsall claimed the main award, including Blackwood Park, Fibbersley Local Nature Reserve, Willenhall Memorial Park and Merrions Wood Local Nature Reserve.

Wolverhampton's Bantock Park, East Park, Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve and West Park joined them along with six sites in Cannock Chase – including Hendesford Park and Stile Cop Cemetery.

Six won in Stafford including Eccleshall Road Cemetery and Victoria Park along with two in South Staffordshire – Baggeridge Country Park and Wom Brook Walk.

Important

A further 17 sites across Birmingham – including Aston Park, Bournville Village Green and the University of Birmingham's Edgbaston Campus – all feature.

Elsewhere, Brinton Park in Kidderminster received the status alongside Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Gardens in Bewdley – both in the Wyre Forest district.

Councillor Helen Dyke, cabinet member for culture, leisure and community protection, said: "I think this year has left us in no doubt just how important our parks and open spaces are for the health and wellbeing of our residents.

"I’m pleased to say that we are extremely blessed with a wide variety of parks and green spaces here in Wyre Forest which our residents and tourists alike enjoy all year round."

Winners of the Green Flag Community Award – handed out to groups which have made a place safe and inviting among other criteria – were also announced by chiefs.

It has seen Caldmore Community Garden in Walsall, Watery Lanes Allotments in Codsall, Abbey Road Allotments in Dudley, Martineau Gardens in Birmingham and Broadwaters Park near Kidderminster scoop up the award.

Jaswinder Sign speaking during the unveiling of the Lions of the Great War statue

They were joined by Lions of the Great War memorial in Smethwick which was unveiled in 2018 and has since been maintained by volunteers from Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick.

Jaswinder Singh, president of the gurdwara, said: "We are absolutely thrilled to be awarded the green flag community award. I would like to thank all the volunteers from Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick who have worked hard to keep the green space looking beautiful. Thanks also to Sandwell Council who have supported us since the inception of the Lions of the Great War site.”

A further five places claimed an award in the Green Heritage Site category – Bournville Village Green, Castle Ring in Cannock, Mary Stevens Park and Priory Park in Dudley and Haden Hill Park in Sandwell.

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