A record number of green spaces have won a Green Flag Award, the organisers announced this week, a few days after a parliamentary question into the future of the initiative.
The 1,424 UK sites to receive an award on Tuesday were drawn from a record 1,508 applications, which was eight per cent up on the year before. The news comes amid rising concern over the delivery of the awards, which provide a benchmark standard for parks and green spaces.
The present contract held by Keep Britain Tidy is set to expire in August. But Communities & Local Government (CLG), which was due to launch a new procurement process in February, has failed to deliver.
Repeated requests for an update have yielded no firm date and worry among green-space leaders has spread to Westminster. Colchester Liberal Democrat MP Sir Bob Russell has tabled a parliamentary question to secretary of state Eric Pickles.
"For what reason has the advert for the licence to deliver the Green Flag Award scheme yet to be published; will he extend the scheme for a further year to enable the necessary consultation and tender process to be undertaken; and will he make a statement?" An answer is due shortly. CLG has indicated the scheme will continue.
Keep Britain Tidy took over the awards in 2009 on the three-year contract that CLG extended for six months to cover 2012 applications. The next contract is due to start in just over two months' time in October.
Green Flag Awards - Green-space winners
- A small community garden at St Luke's Church in Crosby, Merseyside.
- East London's Victoria Park near the Olympic Village.
- The 108ha Roselawn Cemetery, Belfast.
- Samphire Hoe, a nature reserve created from Channel Tunnel spoil in Kent.
- Formal gardens and central woodland of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.
See our Green Flag Awards 2012 supplement - published on Friday on www.horticultureweek.co.uk.