Six parks and nature reserves in Dudley have proved a cut above the rest after being awarded a coveted Green Flag.
Huntingtree Park and The Leasowes in Halesowen, Netherton Park, Silver Jubilee Park in Coseley, Wollescote Park in Stourbridge and Wrens Nest Nature Reserve in Dudley have all been given the national title.
The award recognises and rewards the best parks and green spaces across the country, and is awarded to those with high standards, that are well maintained and which have good facilities.
Councillor Tracy Wood, the council’s environment and culture lead, said: “Dudley is a beautiful, green borough and we’re delighted that our green spaces are being recognised with this prestigious status.
“This accolade is with no small thanks to our local community members, volunteers, residents and friends groups who have worked hard to show how much they truly love our community.”
“The council will be seeking green flag status for other parks and nature reserves throughout the borough in the future.”
Elsewhere in the Black Country and Staffordshire, Sandwell topped the charts with 12 parks earning the award.
Its winners this year included Haden Hill Park in Cradley Heath, Dingley Road Allotments in Wednesbury, Sandwell Valley Crematorium in West Bromwich, Tipton Cemetery and Victoria Park in Smethwick.
The list includes six council-run parks, one in each of the borough’s six towns. Three of the spaces are run by allotment associations and another site is run by Warley Woods Community Trust, a local community organisation.
Councillor Maria Crompton, the council’s cabinet member for highways and environment, said: “I am so proud Sandwell is leading the way in the Green Flag awards.
“People don’t always think of Sandwell as a place thriving with green spaces, but these prestigious awards help to bust any myths that the borough is just an urban jungle.”
Wolverhampton got none, as it emerged that no entries were submitted from the city.
City council spokesman Gurdip Thandi said: “The parks service, along with other departments across the council, has undergone a major reorganisation and because of that we were unable to submit applications.”
Cannock Chase won four awards, including one for Cannock Park.
In Walsall, both Willenhall Memorial Park and Palfrey Park – for the seventh and sixth years running respectively – earned the accolade, as well as Merrion’s Wood. Councillor Sean Coughlan, chairman of the Friends of Willenhall Memorial Park, said: “It’s a recognition of all the hard work that the friends group and volunteers have put into the park to make it such a great place for visitors.”
Other victorious sites across the region were Beacon Park in Lichfield, Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Gardens in Bewdley, Baggeridge Country Park near Sedgley and Wom Brook Walk in Wombourne.
In total 1,448 parks, community gardens, universities and even shopping centres and cemeteries have met the Green Flag standard across the UK, making it a record year.
Green Flag Award Scheme Manager, Paul Todd, said: “A Green Flag Award provides national recognition for the hard work and dedication of all the parks managers, staff and volunteers who have helped to create these fantastic places for all to enjoy.
“Quality green spaces are absolutely essential to happy, healthy communities.
“They are fundamental to our quality of life, whether in cities, towns or villages. That is why it is so significant that we have given out more awards than ever before.”