The organiser, Civic Trust, expects up to 30 more local authorities to submit park entries next year. And the trust is looking for 100 more people to join the 335 Green Flag judges to cope with the increased number of inspections.
Speaking at the Green Flag ceremony in Preston last week, Hope said the awards would be used as a measure of success for the Government’s new liveability Public Service Agreement target.
He explained the Government’s commitment to Green Flags. “Our aim is to ensure that everyone has access to good-quality parks and green spaces. Our vision is that every community aspires to the [Green Flag] standard.
“In the summer, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister agreed a new target to lead to the delivery of cleaner, safer, greener public spaces so we incorporated the awards scheme as one of the measures. This may not seem an earth-shattering announcement, but it reflects the value and importance we place in Green Flags.”
Hope added that the Government will publish full details “shortly” and that the scheme should continue “in its current form”. The Government will form a Green Flag board of CABE Space, Civic Trust, scheme judges and other stakeholders to guide development of operational changes and delivery.
He congratulated the 253 award winners from 114 local authorities. These include 83 new winners such as Fox Covert Cemetery in Warrington and Tatton Park in Cheshire. Hope said many authorities were using the award criteria as a management tool, which led to an eight per cent increase in public satisfaction in green spaces over the past three years.
Civic Trust Green Flag award manager Paul Todd said: “I think it is positive that the Government is now really committed to supporting green spaces. I think making it a target for local authorities to achieve Green Flags is going to grow the scheme and get a commitment from local authorities not already involved in it.”
He added that Civic Trust research suggests there will be a 25 to 30 per cent increase in the number of entrants next year. There are 114 English and four Welsh local authorities in the scheme.
Todd said the trust’s focus is to streamline the system to help councils to apply. Next year
the trust will trial online applications with four or five local authorities. By 2006, online applications will be an option at www.greenflagaward.org.uk.
Authorities will submit a management plan next year rather than a management plan and others, such as an environmental plan.
A training programme to standardise judging is under way. CABE Space’s head of standards and best practice, Deborah Fox, said research shows that local authorities “had the perception” that parks were not judged to the same criteria and that judges were too inexperienced for the job.
Todd said authorities such as Leeds, which has 30 judges on the staff, demonstrate that authorities could use judging for staff personal development and to assess their own parks. He said appeals through HW had been successful.
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