London

Westminster parks lead field in Green Flag awards

Image caption Westminster's prize-winning green spaces include Marble Arch

Westminster has been named as having the cleanest, safest and best maintained parks in London.

The borough scooped a record 24 Green Flags - up from 21 last year - more than any other London borough.

The closest contender was Hillingdon with 19, while Haringey had 16 and the City of London 15.

The flags are awarded by the Keep Britain Tidy group and represent the national standard for parks and green spaces in England and Wales.

Westminster's prize-winning green spaces include a tiny churchyard in the heart of the West End, a 19th century graveyard used as a burial site for prostitutes and paupers in Victoria and a state of the art sports ground in Paddington.

'Incredible achievement'

Cllr Ed Argar, Westminster's cabinet member for city management, said: "As one of the most populated boroughs in London with the additional pressures of a million visitors a day the limited open space we have is particularly precious.

"Our parks allow our residents and visitors to swap the hustle and bustle of the city for some peace, tranquilly and relaxation and winning this many Green Flags is an incredible achievement for Westminster."

The list includes Broadly Street Gardens, Westbourne Green, and Talbot Square Gardens, all of which are in the north of the city, an area which traditionally has had a lot of social housing.

Marble Arch is also named in this year's winners' list, following its redevelopment two years ago. The Mauro Perucchetti's "jelly baby family" statue has been among attractions.

Across London there are 22 green spaces receiving Green Flag status for the first time ever.

The include Mayow Park Community Garden in Lewisham, Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets and Harmondsworth Moor, a former landfill site near Heathrow Airport, which is managed by British Airways and Glendale Countryside.

Phil Barton, Green Flag Plus Partnership chairman said: "In these challenging financial times it is heartening that the number of Green Flag Awards continue to grow. As the value of green space and the role it plays in our communities strengthens, we must ensure these high standards remain."

Green Flag Award applications are judged against eight key criteria including sustainability, conservation and heritage and community involvement.

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