What do you think of the changes to Green Flag?

HW asked parks professionals at the GreenSpace conference for their reaction to the increased judges' training, the piloting of Green Flag status for local authorities and the introduction of community judging and 'mystery shopping'.

John Tweddle, principal parks manager, London Borough of Westminster "What concerns me is that we'll run out of time on this contract. We've really got to start moving.

"It's also important to have a joined-up approach so that contractors understand Green Flag as well. I also think there needs to be more rationale where a local authority is on the borderline [of an award].

"I believe it is the responsibility of the judge to award as a form of encouragement, while ensuring recommendations are taken on board. It's a form of morale boost."


Mike Rowan, director, Mile End Park, London Borough of Tower Hamlets "The [Green Flag] consortium members don't sound like they are being complacent, which is something I welcome.

"The additional community involvement is a good thing and by looking more at engaging the community that can only help raise Green Flag's profile.

"It would be great if we could include adaptation to climate change as one of the criteria. We can't keep doing the same thing — it is about being more realistic. I would also like to see more about health issues in the scheme."


Mike Bent, parks and countryside manager, Bury Metropolitan Borough Council "Having more detail about how the mystery shopping will run makes me feel more secure because it is a quality standard. It is quite innovative bringing the community on board.

"We already do surveys every couple of years and some of our questions are about Green Flag so, in effect, they are judging the park themselves.

"It is about asking local people what is important for them, so the community element is a critical move for Green Flag to make."


Paul Hyde, researcher and Green Flag judge, Liverpool John Moores University "The ratio of applicants to judges is getting out of hand and something does need to be done. If a park is really good then it is right that it doesn't need to be judged every year, but the marginal ones are another issue.

"It will always be a subjective process and there is the problem that a park gets an award one year but not the next because of having a different judge — consistency among judges needs to be addressed. More people who aren't parks managers are needed [as judges]."


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