The past year, in the words of our management team of the year, has been a "whirlwind 12 months for Nottingham City Council's Parks and Open Spaces Services". Hoiking parks up the political agenda, increasing public involvement, securing funds and competing in Britain in Bloom have all helped the team rack up a string of successes.
Almost £4m of capital funding from various sources such as the Big Lottery Fund and Landfill Tax was spent improving green and open spaces across the city. But consultation was as important as the cash and local input helped the authority develop five new outdoor gym areas and two new park pavilions. Two skateparks and 14 playgrounds, meanwhile, are being built right now.
These improvements helped Nottingham win 11 Green Flag Awards - three more than last year - while the management team worked with five community groups to enable them to gain their first Green Pennants. A park ranger service that was launched two years ago continues to flourish to offer more site presence and face-to-face contact with park users.
The result of this extra emphasis has been an increase in visitor attendance, while the floral displays that won the Britain in Bloom Champion of Champions' title were praised by judges for their "breathtaking beauty".
There were more tangible successes. A big rallying cry for open spaces netted almost £100,000 in business sponsorship, while volunteers gave thousands of hours of work worth almost £200,000. The team also secured £300,000 of extra money to meet increasing demand for allotments and give stronger resonance to the adage "Dig for Victory" for the Parks and Open Spaces Services' team.
According to head of parks and open spaces Eddie Curry: "Impressive partnership working, community involvement, business support, horticultural excellence and improvements in the parks all contributed to the overall high standards we set."
City of London Corporation - City Gardens Team
Mid Sussex District Council Landscapes and Facilities Team
Westminster City Council Open Space Management Team