The first overseas awards went to Almelo Parks Service in the Netherlands in partnership with Preston City Council, following a Civic Trust pilot, led by Preston and Almelo parks heads Matt Kelly and Harry Schrotenboer.
Green Flag mentors have worked with the parks service in Almelo for several years as part of Preston council's twinning partnership. Preston's former head of parks Eddie Curry (now at Nottingham) initiated the scheme in 2002.
Almelo officers visited Grange Park in Preston in 2002, and in 2003 officers from Preston visited Almelo and gave recommendations on how to improve Goosenmaatspark and other sites using the Green Flag Award criteria.
Managers in Almelo then used guidance from Preston to redevelop Goosenmaatspark with a EUR3m (£2.4m) investment package. Schelfhorst Park was also awarded a Green Flag.
In December 2007, Preston City Council sent Green Flag Award judges Andy Bailey and Ken Regan to carry out a pre-inspection in Holland. In June this year, Green Flag Award judges Mike Bent (of Bury council) and Mel Henley (of High Peak council) carried out the first formal Green Flag Award inspection of a park in Europe.
This successful pilot will now be evaluated to develop the next steps for the future development of the Green Flag Award Scheme as an international standard of excellence in parks management.
Kelly said: "The Green Flag Award has spread good practice and high standards into Europe. I could see the possibilities 18 months ago, so why not formalise them? There is no Green Flag standard overseas so people are looking to become part of Green Flag from outside the UK. We learnt lessons from them and they learnt from us."
Green Flag Award applications manager Paul Todd said: "This result is very exciting for the scheme and plays a crucial role in working towards establishing Green Flag as an international standard."
CLG is yet to decide if the Civic Trust will manage Green Flag in 2009.
- A full list of Green Flag award winners 2008/9 will be included with next week's issue of HW.
GREEN FLAG FACTS
- The Civic Trust received 872 applications from across the UK - up 27 per cent on 2007
- A record 743 green spaces won Green Flag Awards
- Awards ceremony is today (24 July) in Liverpool
- See www.greenflagaward.org.uk.