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Lambeth’s parks keep on improving as eight green spaces win top award

Two more parks in Lambeth have been ranked as among the very best green spaces in the country by a national award scheme.

Hillside Gardens Park in Streatham Hill and St. John’s Church Gardens in Waterloo have both been awarded a prestigious ‘Green Flag Award’ for the first time this year – the coveted award is given to parks and open space that are judged to be the best maintained and have the best facilities for the public.

The latest two awards mean Lambeth now boasts eight Green Flag Award parks, its highest total ever.

Archbishop’s Park in Waterloo, Milkwood Community Park in Herne Hill, Myatt’s Fields Park in Brixton, Ruskin Park in Herne Hill, St. Paul’s Churchyard and Eden at St. Paul’s in Clapham Town, and Vauxhall Park all retained their Green Flags for another year, standing out after impressing the judges with their excellent use of available green space, along with well-maintained facilities and high standard of safety and security.

Only green spaces that are free to enter and open to the public are eligible to win an award through the scheme, which is run by environmental charities Keep Britain Tidy, BTCV and GreenSpace.

The awards are a result of year round hard work from local residents, working with council parks officers and staff from the council’s grounds maintenance contractor, Veolia ES UK.

Councillor Florence Nosegbe, Lambeth Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and the 2012 Games, said: “We have some wonderful parks in Lambeth and the fact that eight of them are now recognised as among the best in the country is fantastic. Parks and green spaces are vital breathing spaces where people can relax, play sport, enjoy wildlife and socialise, and you only have to travel across the borough on any given summer’s day to see how popular they are.

“Each Green Flag has been achieved through year round hard work from council officers and staff from our contractors, but most of all it is down to the active roles played by our residents. Green Flag Award places a heavy emphasis on community involvement and ownership, and all of Lambeth’s eight winning sites were able to readily demonstrate this to judges who visited each site earlier this year. We simply couldn’t have achieved these awards without the commitment of our dedicated park user groups, who have worked so hard to make these green spaces safe, attractive and welcoming.”

Hillside Gardens Park is a small but popular park situated midway between Streatham Hill and Tulse Hill. The park provides local people with an important space for play, sport, exercise and relaxation.

The park has refurbished tennis and games courts, and a new playground funded by a partnership between the Friends of Hillside Gardens Park and Lambeth Council, who raised £130,000 from sources including the Lottery Fund.

Hillside Gardens has flower gardens and a dog free children’s area, along with a popular One O’clock Club for toddlers, their parents and carers, which has recently been refurbished.

Tony Emerson, Chair Friends of Hillside Gardens Park, said: “Hillside somehow manages to be both a tranquil place and a vibrant place at the same time. For this we can thank the work of the people who set up the Friends ten years ago, and a number of very dedicated Lambeth Council officers who have shown real commitment to us over the years. And we can thank all the many local people who use the park so positively in so many different ways. One of our next projects is to get even more local people active in the Friends and in running activities in the park.”

St. John’s Church Gardens is a small open space surrounding the historic Church of St. John the Evangelist at Waterloo, a magnificent Grade II listed church first consecrated for worship in 1824. Once a place that was underused and blighted by antisocial problems, the church gardens have been totally transformed into a place that is safe and welcoming, and full of features that attract positive uses by the whole community. The Friends of St. John’s Churchyard, Southbank Mosaics and St. Mungo’s, though their ‘Putting Down Roots’ training and support programme, have helped create a new community knot garden, along with numerous wildlife habitats and landscaped features, as well as a fine network of new paths and mosaic sculptures or murals.

Paul Todd, Manager, Green Flag Award Scheme, said:  “It’s a remarkable achievement that so many parks have successfully reached Green Flag Award status this year. The staff running the parks work very hard throughout the year to ensure their facilities are maintained to a high standard and enjoyed by the entire community.

“As the recession bites and people look closer to home to enjoy the outdoors, the provision of high-quality, free open spaces is of particular importance.”

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